Flyers left embarrassed in 6-2 loss to Devils

NHL 2017: Flyers vs Devils MAR 16
March 16, 2017 – Newark, New Jersey, U.S. – Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason (35) defends against Devils’ center Pavel Zacha (37) in the second period during NHL action at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2. Duncan Williams/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)

The Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils meet Thursday night at the Prudential Center, with the Flyers playoff hopes on the line. The Flyers (32-29-8) are closer to the playoff pack then are the last place Devils. They still have three teams ahead of them for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, with just 13 games remaining on the schedule.

Fortunately, the Flyers snapped a three-game losing streak by shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 on Wednesday night. Steve Mason earned his third shutout of the season, and Wayne Simmonds notched his 200th career goal. In addition, Claude Giroux extended his point scoring streak to five consecutive games by netting his 14th goal of the season. Their role players had to step up, and they did that last night. They had to continue to get this type of play against their long time nemesis the New Jersey Devils, in order to still remain a shot for the last wild card spot.

Head Coach Dave Hakstol understands the importance of this game. He had this to say after a hard fought win against the Penguins, There’s been no waver in our demeanor. We haven’t gotten results over the last few games, we went the backend of that road trip, Toronto, Boston, I easily feel we could have walked away with points, didn’t get the start here at home we needed against Columbus but in terms of our approach and demeanor and presence there’s been no change, it’s a focused group that’s working for the next game.”

Led by Head Coach Dave Hakstol’s words of confidence, the Flyers got off to the start they wanted by scoring the first goal of the game. However, the Flyers suffered a devastating loss to the Devils 6-2, and failed to gain ground in the wild card race. Steve Mason got the unexpected start in net against the Devils, as he shut out the Penguins the night before 4-0. He made 19 saves before being replaced by Michal Neuvirth, as he suffered an apparent leg injury in the third period.

With the Flyers struggling to maintain possession early in the first period, Taylor Hall was called for a tripping penalty with 14:40 remaining. It appeared to give the Flyers life. On the ensuing power play, the Flyers managed two shots on net, but Keith Kinkaid made both saves keeping the game scoreless.

Radko Gudas took the Flyers first penalty of the night late in the first period. The Flyers penalty killers did a phenomenal job, as they only allowed one shot on net. Mason made the easy left pad save keeping the game scoreless.

Moments after a successful penalty kill, the feel good Flyers seemed to gain some momentum. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek skated into the Devils zone on an odd man rush. Giroux passed the puck over to Voracek. Voracek then passed it to Michael Del Zotto, who deposited his 5th goal on the season into the back of the net. This gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

With the Flyers flying after the late goal in the first period, their hopes seemed to waver when Kyle Palmieri scored off a snap shot tying the game at 1. Giroux lost a rare faceoff in his own zone. Palmieri took a snap shot through heavy traffic in front of Mason for his 23rd goal of the year, with just 1:49 remaining the opening period.

The Devils found themselves dominating the majority of the play in the first period. The period ended with the score tied at 1, and the Devils firing 9 shots on net. The Flyers lost the faceoff margin 63%-47%, and fired 6 shots on net.

Early in the second period, Travis Konecny took a tripping penalty. The Devils managed two shots on net for the power play, but Mason made both saves keeping the score tied at 1.

With 6:50 ticked off the clock in the second period, the Flyers found themselves on their heels. The Devils were out shooting the Flyers 5-0. Beau Bennett retrieved the puck from behind the Flyers net. He made a nice pass to Adam Henrique in front of the net. Henrique one timed the puck past Mason’s right leg for a 2-1 Devils lead. It was Henrique’s 17th goal of the year.

Towards the middle of the second period, the Flyers were finally finding their skating legs. However, Andrew MacDonald was called for a hooking penalty. On the ensuing Devils power play, David Severson took a slap shot on net, with Mason making the easy save. Joseph Blandisi found the rebound, and he deposited the puck past Mason for his 2nd goal of the year. This gave the Devils a 3-1 lead.

With the Flyers playoff hopes wavering midway in the second period, the feel good Flyers perseverance never seemed to fade. With 8:47 remaining in the second period, Radko Gudas unleashed a slap shot from the point. Brayden Schenn deflected the puck past Kinkaid, cutting the Devils lead 3-2. It was Schenn’s 21st goal of the year.

John Merrill took a slashing penalty, with 4:41 remaining in the second period. On the ensuing power play, the Flyers managed two shots on net, but Kinkaid stood tall making both saves keeping the score 3-2 Devils.

The Devils found themselves dominating the majority of the play in the second period. The period ended with the Devils leading 3-2, while firing 12 shots on net. The Flyers did win the faceoff margin 51%-49%, and fired 9 shots on net.

The Flyers were struggling to maintain possession early in the third period. At 18:40 in the period, Taylor Hall found himself on a breakaway on Mason. Hall completely undressed Mason with his slick moves, and slid the puck past him for a 4-2 Devils lead. It was Hall’s 16th goal of the year. Mason appeared to injure his leg on the play, and he was helped off the ice by training staff. Michal Neuvirth came in relief of him for the remainder of the game.

With the Flyers regaining their legs in the third period, their hopes seemed to waver when they had trouble clearing the zone just four minutes into the period. John Moore took a wrist shot on net, but Neuvirth made the left pad save. Henrique gobbled the rebound, and placed the puck past Neuvirth for his 2nd goal of the night. This put the Devils up 5-2.

In the later stages of third period, Hakstol pulled his goaltender Neuvirth for an extra attacker. Taylor Hall scored on the empty net for his second goal of the game, giving the Devils a 6-2 lead. It was Hall’s 17th goal of the year.

The Devils outplayed the Flyers in the third period, and they came away with a 6-2 victory. The Devils outshot the Flyers 29-19 for the game, but the Flyers won the faceoff margin 52%-48%.

The lethargic third period doomed the Flyers in the loss against the Devils. To make matters worse, the Flyers lost Mason to an apparent leg injury. This could have devastating ramifications for their fading playoff hopes. They failed to take advantage of losses by the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning, both of whom the Flyers are chasing for the last playoff spot. The Flyers still remain five points out of the last playoff spot. They look to rebound on Sunday night against the Carolina Hurricanes with a 7:30 pm tilt.

Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.


Duncan Williams/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)