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Flyers 3, Devils 1: Early onslaught leads Flyers to key divisional win

Three first-period goals gave the Flyers a lead they’d never really come close to relinquishing, and they’d pick up even more ground on a divisional rival ahead of them in the standings.

Kate Frese / SBNation

A year after the Flyers struggled repeatedly with a Devils team that clearly seemed to be beneath them, the orange and black have come out firing against a Devils team that’s been in playoff position since the season began, and it’s helped pull them back into the playoff race.

Three goals in the game’s first 12:15 were all the Flyers needed, as they’d coast through the rest of the game en route to a 3-1 win over New Jersey. The win was their sixth in their last seven games. Eight different Flyers collected points, while Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 of 31 shots for his second win in as many games.

Re-live the magic with us below, minute by minute, as we talked our way through this afternoon victory.

12:51 p.m.: On the one hand, I am generally of the mindset that Flyers-Devils games are not affairs that go well for the Flyers. On the other hand, it’s NFC Championship weekend and I have decided that there will be no negative sports energy to be had. Plus, the Flyers played reasonably well in a win against this same Devils team seven days ago, so why not? Let’s do this, folks.

12:58 p.m.: Flyers will start with the top line and top pair, which is fun and good.

1:09 p.m.: And we’re underway, as both teams get a pretty good shift in within the first minute and change of the game.

1:13 p.m.: Konecny with the perfect spot from Gostisbehere and we’re off to a good start here! 1-0 Flyers on what I believe is their first shot of the game.

1:15 p.m.: Flyers feeling it a bit right now. Every dangerous moment since the goal has come courtesy of a guy in orange.

1:17 p.m.: Here’s that goal, by the way. That pass. Oooooh, man.

1:18 p.m.: First real good chance of the day for the Devils, but a juicy rebound off the initial shot by Travis Zajac isn’t corralled by Drew Stafford. Sloppy play in the neutral zone allowed that to happen; let’s do less of that.

1:21 p.m.: Flyers and Devils spend a good 15 or so seconds trying to get a puck off the wall out of a scrum and then the refs actually blow it dead and call for a draw. Don’t see that terribly often nowadays...

1:22 p.m.: And another one! A very weird sequence of passes and it’s 2-0 Flyers off of a nice shot by Filppula.

1:23 p.m.: Simmonds with a nice move by the net to nearly make it 3-0. This has been nice and fun. Flyers-Devils games seem to just find a way to snowball, one way or the other, so hopefully this snowballs in a good direction.

1:24 p.m.: Just how they drew this one up. A swing that ends up behind the net and a short little pass to Filppula by Raffl leads to the chance in front.

1:27 p.m.: SNOWBALLING. IT’S SNOWBALLING. 3-0 FLYERS. That looks like Provorov, chilling out right in front of the net, tipping that one past Kinkaid.

1:29 p.m.: Kinkaid is hurt following that goal. With Cory Schneider out due to illness, someone or something named “Ken Appleby” will be making his NHL debut right now in net. Good for him. Let’s make it miserable.

1:30 p.m.: Ivan Provorov getting in on the greasy goal action here! Good stuff.

1:31 p.m.: And the new guy is immediately tested with two dangerous chances by the Flyers, as Simmonds and Patrick are denied on a rush and subsequent rebound. This period is fun. Can we do this all the time? I’m enjoying it.

1:38 p.m.: I am very much here for this NBCSPhilly segment on Sean Couturier eating Nico Hischier alive this period. Absolutely here for it.

1:39 p.m.: Aaaaaaand we have a fight. John Moore takes some liberties with Michael Raffl, who apparently may have tripped Appleby after a chase for the puck behind the net? Raffl ultimately gets the best of him in a decent bout, and is not called for anything for bumping into Appleby.

1:41 p.m.: Every time I watch the Devils I remember that John Hynes looks like a movie villain. #analysis

1:42 p.m.: With just over two minutes left, the Flyers will head to the penalty kill, as Scott Laughton trips Andy Greene in the neutral zone. Would be nice to keep that goose egg up on the board through the end of the period.

1:45 p.m.: Couturier falls to the ice along the boards while trying to control the puck, and he’s hit hard by Palmieri into the boards. Couturier is a little slow to get up, but appears to be fine, and the Flyers will now get a power play going into the second period (unless they score here before the period ends).

1:47 p.m.: They almost do! But they don’t, as a backhand pass by Simmonds finds Couturier in the slot, but he’s denied by the glove hand of Appleby in the final second of the period. Flyers will take a 3-0 lead and 75 seconds of power play time into the second frame.

1:52 p.m.: A lot to like in that first period. Flyers (obviously) are up three goals and dominated the shot clock, and eight guys have picked up at least one point. Multiple lines are buzzing, chances are coming from in close, and the defense has done well to keep New Jersey from doing the same.

2:05 p.m.: Underway in the second period, as the Flyers will get a bit of time with the man advantage to get things going.

2:06 p.m.: A little bit of pressure on that abbreviated PP that doesn’t amount to anything on the scoreboard, but Gostisbehere flattens Palmieri when he gets the puck out of the penalty box and streaks into the offensive zone by himself, so that was fun.

2:10 p.m.: Stefan Noesen hits Jakub Voracek up high with what appears to have been something of a swing of the arm, and Brandon Manning comes in and expresses his displeasure with Noesen for doing that. Arm is up. We’ll see who gets penalties for it.

2:11 p.m.: Aaaaand Manning gets the only call for roughing. Nothing to Noesen for the hit on Voracek, which is unfortunate. Flyers will head back to the penalty kill still up 3-0.

2:15 p.m.: That penalty is killed with little incident and apparently the Flyers had so much fun killing that one that they’re going to go kill another one. Laughton called for his second minor of the afternoon, this one for high-sticking ... on a follow-through, which should not have been called for a penalty. Game looking eerily similar to last week’s right now.

2:17 p.m.: Heh, Chris Therien said that at the commercial break he talked to the linesman and he basically admitted it was a blown call. That’s fun. Let’s be on the lookout for a makeup call, then.

2:19 p.m.: And, on the third try, the Devils get on the board. Low shot by Jesper Bratt sneaks under Neuvirth’s glove and bounces off of his pad and into the net. 3-1 Flyers.

2:21 p.m.: Loose puck in front of the Flyers’ net off of a shot from an angle is turned away by Neuvirth; then, a couple of shifts later, Appleby has to cover the puck while sprawling across his own crease. Game’s getting interesting. Too interesting, you might say.

2:22 p.m.: There we go. Palmieri throws the puck over the glass behind the Flyers’ bench from his own third of the ice, and he’ll head off for the second time today as the Flyers will get a chance to widen the lead back to three.

2:24 p.m.: A number of good chances in that power play — one over the net by Simmonds, one a big slapshot by Couturier from the slot — but nothing finds its way to the net as the man-advantage ends and we reach the halfway mark of regulation.

2:26 p.m.: And now things get wild. Konecny — who missed a couple of shifts earlier in the period, for what may or may not have been a benching of some sort — gets in on a breakaway, but puts the shot wide of Appleby. A few seconds later, Gostisbehere is taken down away from the puck and the Flyers get another power play, not long after they get a bit too lax with the puck in front of their own empty net. Anywho, let’s score one here.

2:29 p.m.: On replay, Ghost sold that call pretty hard. There’s your make-up call from earlier.

2:29 p.m.: They’re playing Fly Eagles Fly as we come back from intermission. POSITIVE VIBES.

2:32 p.m.: Very little doing from the Flyers on that power play. Most notable moment of the whole thing was probably Couturier getting hit up high with a stick and it not getting called a penalty, which is a shame.

2:35 p.m.: The Flyers get a 2-on-1! Aaaaaaaaaaand it’s Laughton and Goulbourne. You can guess what happened next. Pretty quick whistle afterwards though as Appleby didn’t appear to have total control of that puck under his glove.

2:37 p.m.: Provorov has been very aggressive in the offensive zone today. It’s been fun to watch.

2:40 p.m.: Nico Hischier with a good wraparound chance late in the period, but Neuvirth is there to close down the post on the glove-side. Just gotta make it through this period.

2:41 p.m.: They’ll do one better! A long rush up-ice by Voracek and great passes by him and Filppula force Travis Zajac to hook Raffl right in front of the net, and the Flyers will have 31 seconds of power play time to end the period.

2:43 p.m.: A shot by Giroux from the top of the circle in the closing seconds goes under Appleby’s arm and past the net, and we’ll hit the second intermission with the Flyers holding a power play and a 3-1 lead.

2:50 p.m.: A fairly even period there, one in which the Devils were definitely able to open things up a bit more than in the first but didn’t have a huge edge. Flyers with a narrow edge in shots/shot attempts in the game so far and a comfortable one in expected goals.

Ken Appleby has stopped all 17 shots he’s faced so far, which is pretty annoying if you ask me.

3:01 p.m.: Underway in the third, as the Flyers’ fourth power play effort of the afternoon continues, but maybe not in the way they were hoping, as the Devils quickly get a 2-on-1 the other way. But that ends as Palmieri is, again, snuffed out near the net by Gostisbehere.

3:03 p.m.: Man-advantage ends. Power play has had damn near nothing today — three of its four chances have been very quiet. But Provorov sneaks up in the offensive zone to get a shot in on Appleby not long after the power play ends, and Raffl gets a good look at a rebound that also doesn’t go.

3:04 p.m.: Good pass to Jesper Bratt down low gives him a shot short-side, but Neuvirth is there to seal the post.

3:06 p.m.: And this special teams-heavy game will continue, as Konecny is called for tripping Hischier in the offensive zone.

3:09 p.m.: A good tic-tac-toe passing sequence gives Stafford a chance right in front of Neuvirth, but ihe whiffs on the shot, and the Flyers eventually make their way back to full strentch as we head to the first commercial break of the period.

3:12 p.m.: ‘Twas mentioned by the broadcast coming back from the commercial break, but it’s worth re-emphasizing just how good Gostisbehere’s been defensively in this game.

3:14 p.m.: A good shift there for the third line (they’ve been pretty quiet today) that came at a good time, as New Jersey has been pushing hard pretty much since the Flyers’ period-opening power play ended.

3:22 p.m.: Good chance there on a deflected shot by Wood that gets stopped by Neuvirth, who’s played his second straight good game. Not a ton asked of him in the early part of the game, but as the Devils have ratcheted up the pressure he’s held the fort down. Still wouldn’t play him tomorrow in the back-to-back, but he’s earned at least a couple of games between now and the All-Star break.

3:27 p.m.: Flyers get a 2-on-1 with Laughton and ... Lehtera. Man, Scotty is getting no luck at all on these odd-man chances today. Still 3-1 as we tick down under three minutes.

3:28 p.m.: Net is empty with just over two minutes left.

3:30 p.m.: E-A-G-L-E-S chant with 1:30 left. Also, Appleby was stuck in net after a neutral-zone faceoff and he’s just now getting out with a little over a minute to go.

3:31 p.m.: The Flyers will win this game in a few seconds, but they’ll have one more penalty for good measure. A nice pair of passes sees Drew Stafford with a chance at an empty net (boy, that’s happened a few times today), and Robert Hagg cross-checks him to prevent that goal. Flyers will get a chance to pad their penalty kill stats with 1.7 seconds left on the clock.

3:33 p.m.: And that’s game! Flyers use a strong push in the game’s early going to get three on the board, and they make those three stand up in a 3-1 final over the Devils for their second win over Jersey in as many weekends. The Flyers now sit four points behind the Devils in the standings (New Jersey has one game in hand), and will now jump on the Acela to head down to Washington and give us a Sunday matinee tomorrow against the division-leading Capitals. See you then. Go Flyers.