The Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Thursday night, sweeping them in the process. Carter Hart made 33 saves on 34 shots for the win, which jumped the Flyers into a tie for second place with the Bruins. The Flyers hold a record of 5-2-1 on the season. The loss dropped the Devils dropped to 3-3-1 on the season.
Just before the game, we learned that head coach Alain Vigneault made a defensive switch. The Flyers announced that both Erik Gustafsson and Nate Prosser would start, while Robert Haag and Mark Friedman got the night off. This came after Gustafsson was named a healthy scratch on Tuesday night. This was Prosser’s first start as a Flyer and his first game in the NHL since January 17, 2019. Fans were making their opinions known on social media, however, AV clearly knew what he’s doing as both played a key role in the win.
Devils Strike First and an Unlikely Flyer Answers
The Flyers came out at the start of the game with some jump. In fact, they seemed to dictate the pace and had momentum from the beginning. Unfortunately, they could not capitalize on this momentum. Claude Giroux who was in on a break-away had the puck roll off his stick at one point while Joel Farabee had another nice scoring chance driving the net and getting a couple of shots on goal.
However, as the Devils pushed back and took over the momentum of the game, the Flyers once again found issues clearing the puck out of their own zone. The Devils were opportunists in jumping on loose pucks and knocking down clearing passes. It seemed like each attempt to clear the puck was turned into a Devils scoring opportunity. The only issue for NJ was that Carter Hart brought his A-game.
Just over seven minutes in, Damon Severson skated the puck from his own zone, somehow crossed up Gustafsson, and beat the red-hot Hart to give the Devils a one-goal lead. It would be the only chink in Hart’s armor all night.
Trust the Prosser
It took only a little over two minutes for the Flyers to respond. An offensive zone face-off led to a Gustafsson shot. Prosser snuck in from the backside to bury the rebound, scoring his first as a Flyer. He became the first defenseman to score in his Flyers debut since Derian Hatcher on October 14, 2005.
The second period was a goalless one. The Flyers play could be described with one word – sloppy. The Flyers seemed to be fighting the puck all night. NJ had the offensive advantage in the period, outshooting the Flyers. Once again, Hart was amazing. He was in a solid position all night and stopped everything the Devils threw at him.
The Fourth Line Show and G get off the Schneid
The teams entered the third period still tied 1-1. The Flyers didn’t wait long to take over. At the two and a half minute mark, the fourth line went to work. Nicolas Aube-Kubel got away a possible trip on Jack Hughes as Connor Bunnaman reached the loose puck and shot it on net. Michael Raffl was the beneficiary as the puck trickled behind devil’s goalie Scott Wedgewood, with Raffl tapping the puck into the empty net for the eventual game-winner.
At the 6:36 mark, Claude Giroux finally scored his first goal of the season. The Captain won the face-off, however, his stick was knocked out of his hands. G retrieved his stick and skated towards the net before redirecting a Gustafsson point shot for the goal.
The Devils continued to press, however the Flyers played a solid defensively for the remainder of the game. Hart was simply amazing. It was great to see him bounce back after the debacle in Boston.
The Devils outshot the Flyers 34-17. Both teams had 14 hits. The Flyers dominated the face-offs winning 74 % of the draws. With two games remaining in January, the Flyers have tied their win total from the first month of the 2019-2020 season.
Shayne Gostisbehere had another solid game and looks much stronger than in previous seasons. His defensive partner, Ivan Provorov, once again led all skaters in time on ice, playing 27 minutes 38 seconds. The three stars of the game were Carter Hart, Claude Giroux, and Erik Gustafsson. The Flyers’ next game is Saturday, January 30th against the New York Islanders.