The Flyers were pissed off after their game on Thursday, as they should have been, since their effort on Thursday was unacceptable. A team that has tried to pride itself on strong defensive play had been nothing short of disastrous defensively for the first two weeks of the season, and against a Devils team that has played very well to start the year, it was going to be tough to change that trend.
But for at least a game, they were able to do just that.
A mostly tightly-checked game tilted towards the Flyers late in the third period following a highlight-reel goal from Jakub Voracek, and the Flyers skated away with a 5-2 win in a Saturday afternoon showdown with New Jersey. Travis Konecny scored for the second straight game, while Nolan Patrick — back in the lineup after missing three contests with what appeared to be a shoulder injury — picked up his first goal of the season in the second period. Wayne Simmonds and Scott Laughton both scored into empty nets in the game’s waning moments.
The Devils collected two goals on the power play, but failed to get much going offensively at 5-on-5 in what may have been the Flyers’ best all-around defensive effort of the season. Though final shots on goal were even at 21 each, the Flyers largely controlled the pace of this game, collecting 59.74 percent of the 5-on-5 shot attempts (via).
Relive the magic with us below as we reacted to this one, minute-by-minute.
12:52 p.m.: So we’re all a little bit on edge here, aren’t we? The Flyers are coming off of a fairly embarrassing loss against one divisional opponent last Thursday night in Columbus, and they don’t have that much time to think about it, because we’ve got an afternooner on tap today. People are stressed. The Flyers don’t look like they understand the concept of defense. Oh, and apparently the coach broke up the top defensive pair?
#Flyers units:— Dave Isaac (@davegisaac) October 20, 2018
Tough to really argue with it, I guess? Ivan Provorov looks way off to start this season, and while Shayne Gostisbehere doesn’t seem quite as lost, he’s certainly played better hockey in the past than he has in the first two weeks of this season. Still ... ugh. We’ll see.
All of this against a Devils team that should really not be as good as they’ve been so far this season. I mean, not to throw stones here because I’ve watched the Flyers attempt to play hockey this year, but look at that fucking roster. How is that team any good? It’s infuriating.
12:59 p.m.: Sure enough, we’ll see Provorov opening up the game not with Gostisbehere but instead with Robert Hagg, who has performed reasonably well in the season’s first two weeks. No time like the present to try something different, I guess.
Today's starting lineup presented by @herrfoods will be:— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 20, 2018
37#NJDvsPHI | #LetsGoFlyers pic.twitter.com/25xMwtgvQf
1:08 p.m.: Off we go. New first line (now with 100 percent more Wayne Simmonds!) gets a decent look on its first shift.
1:09 p.m.: Nolan Patrick is back on the ice after missing a week! I have nothing else to add to this news. His first shift sees Provorov turn it over in his own zone, but Blake Coleman’s shot is turned away by Elliott.
1:13 p.m.: Michael Raffl gets called for an ... iffy hooking penalty in the Devils’ zone as his stick is around Mirco Mueller’s midsection as Mueller loses his footing. No, that call’s just bad. Good lord. Anywho, the PK gets an early test, as the Devils have a power play goal in each of the five games they’ve played in this year.
1:15 p.m.: And now they’ve got one in this game. Nice pass across the zone to Severson and he beats Elliott up high before Christian Folin can get in the path of the shot. 1-0 Devils within the game’s first five minutes.
1:20 p.m.: Crowd finally gets going a bit after Jordan Weal and Travis Konecny spearhead an offensive zone shift that hems the Devils in for somewhere over a minute. Nice handiwork by Weal on some takeaways and good keeps at the line by Ghost. Not a ton of great looks at the net in that time, but the line that was the Flyers’ best in Columbus on Thursday has shown up early.
1:24 p.m.: Flyers have mostly kept things out of their end of the ice since that goal, and they’re rewarded for it as Pavel Zacha (who the Devils took sixth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft) hooks Scott Laughton at the Devils’ blue line. Flyers’ PP, which has been threatening lately but hasn’t been able to score much, will get its first crack of the day.
1:27 p.m.: TRAVIS KONECNY HELLO
We are tied at one. Because the SECOND POWER PLAY UNIT SCORED A GOAL. Great shot from Konecny at the circle and he wires it over Kinkaid.
1:28 p.m.: Devils get a rush in on Elliott and it dribbles under his arm but fortunately just wide of the net. We’re still knotted up at one at the commercial break.
1:31 p.m.: That’s hot.
What a snipe! pic.twitter.com/TqC8uOzGND— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 20, 2018
1:32 p.m.: Game has been a bit clogged up in the neutral zone coming out of the break, and that’s where Kevin Rooney (seriously, who?) high-sticks Nolan Patrick in the face. Power plays will get a chance to remain undefeated so far in this game.
1:35 p.m.: Nothing doing. Flyers don’t even really get set up in their own end until there are around 20 seconds left in that power play. Credit to the Devils, who gave the Flyers fits at the blue line on entry attempts.
1:42 p.m.: Devils and Flyers exchange good shifts on the cycle, in a sequence ending with Provorov getting denied by Kinkaid from the slot. Just over three minutes left in the first period.
1:44 p.m.: Flyers will end this period on a power play (unless they score on it!), as Lehtera leaks a pass out to Raffl along the boards and Raffl gets hooked by Blake Coleman with 1:59 left in the opening frame.
1:47 p.m.: Some early pressure by the top unit, but things break down a bit once the Devils initially get the puck out of the zone, and we’ll head to intermission with the score knotted up at one each.
1:54 p.m.: Pretty sluggish game through the first period. Most of the potential offense came on special teams, with a dearth of good chances at 5-on-5. Then again, the way the Flyers have defended lately, I think we’ll probably take a slow first period. Probably.
2:05 p.m.: Off we go to start the second period. Devils defenseman Steven Santini, who appeared to take a puck off the face during that long Flyers shift in the first, is not out to start this period. Something to watch out for; on the one hand, Santini is bad, but on the other hand, always tough to roll with just five defensemen.
2:06 p.m.: And Taylor Hall immediately gets a crack at Elliott, as Provorov (somewhat impeded by the official along the boards) can’t get the puck out and turns it over. Elliott catches it and we get a stoppage in the early moments of the period.
2:08 p.m.: And now the Flyers will have their fourth power play of the day, as Damon Severson fairly blatantly cross-checks Voracek in the Devils’ zone. Flyers will have their third chance to use a PP to take the lead.
2:10 p.m.: For a brief moment, the Flyers looked to be headed to a 5-on-3 after Brian Boyle is called for hooking Weal, but the ref, probably looking to atone for what was admittedly a pretty weak call, decides to call Weal for embellishment to keep things where they are. Two calls that were both pretty bad. So it goes.
2:16 p.m.: Decent amount of time spent in each zone so far in this period, but more cycling and fighting in puck battles than actual scoring chances. Only two shots on goal (both by New Jersey) as we hit commercial seven and a half minutes into the period.
2:18 p.m.: This sounds about right.
To add to this: Flyers have 34 shot attempts in this game ... and 7 shots on goal.— Corey Masisak (@cmasisak22) October 20, 2018
2:20 p.m.: Neutral zone turnover leads to a 2-on-1 for the Devils as Zacha beats Gostisbehere down the line, but Elliott shuts down Zacha’s shot. Still looking for our first shot on goal for the Flyers as we near the period’s half-way mark.
2:22 p.m.: You get enough chances on the power play, eventually the other team’s gonna get one. New Jersey will get a chance to take the lead on the other side of this commercial break as Weal is called for interference. Unfortunate period for him.
2:25 p.m.: Gaaaah Laughton wins a race to a loose puck in the Devils’ zone but picks it up too close to the goal line and doesn’t get a good look at Kinkaid before the other guys catch up with him. Good PK so far.
2:27 p.m.: Devils’ best chance of the PP comes immediately after it ends, as a Weal turnover and ensuing pass draws Elliott over to the near post, fortunately to a spot where the Devils can’t take advantage of it. Flyers immediately rebound and Couturier streaks in to force Kinkaid to make a stop, his first of the period with 7:18 left in it.
2:29 p.m.: They’ll now get a few more chances to shoot it, as Andy Greene cross-checks Laughton in the crease a couple times and the Flyers will head out to the power play with 6:05 remaining in this period. Still 1-1 in a pretty slow-paced game so far.
2:32 p.m.: Best chance on this PP comes on a rebound right in front of Kinkaid, where Simmonds corrals the puck but puts it just wide of some open space to the goalie’s left. A couple decent shots for both units, but still 1-1 as the PP ends. Not a great day for the power play, which is 1 for 5.
2:39 p.m.: Action finally picking up in the waning moments of the period! Devils aggressively pressure Ivan Provorov down near his goal line, but the Flyers finally turn it around and it becomes a 2-on-1 that Kinkaid turns aside, and then the Flyers start to generate some pressure following that rush but then Gudas falls down at the blue line and the Devils get an odd-man chance of their own the other way, but Sanheim gets back to defend that and break it up AND NOW A GOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL BY NOLAN PATRICK MAKES IT 2 TO 1
2:41 p.m.: And now the period’s over. Here, watch this for the next 17 minutes. What a pass by Voracek. Patrick’s first goal of the season!
PATRICK! pic.twitter.com/OYFRgGENTt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 20, 2018
2:50 p.m.: If it feels like the Flyers have had the puck for most of this game, that’s because they have. Credit to the Devils for getting in the way of a lot of Flyers shot attempts — they’ve blocked 23 shots so far — but the way the Flyers have played so far it would be pretty disappointing to come away with anything short of two points.
2:54 p.m.: “I actually made a terrible play to start that ... just go to the net when 93 has the puck.” Words of wisdom from Nolan Patrick right there.
3:00 p.m.: 20 minutes left to lock down a good home win against a key divisional opponent. We’re off in the third.
3:02 p.m.: Steve Kozari loses sight of the puck as a long shot by Robert Hagg deflects over and behind Kinkaid. Looks like he’d have got there to cover the loose puck regardless, but still leaves you a bit of room to wonder what if.
3:03 p.m.: Devils get some good pressure on the ensuing shift as they get two good chances at open nets that fortunately no one is there to put home. Laughton finally clears, and Voracek chases down the loose puck in the Devils’ zone but can’t wrap it around in time ... aaaaaand the Devils get it out and Weal high-sticks Johansson in the neutral zone. His third penalty of the afternoon (and his second legitimate one). Big kill coming here.
3:07 p.m.: They don’t kill it. Palmieri screens Elliott and Boyle wires a shot past him to tie the game at 2. Palmieri is close enough to Elliott and makes enough contact that the Flyers deem it worthwhile to call in a challenge for goaltender interference. Don’t think this gets overturned, but we’ll see.
3:10 p.m.: It is not overturned. We are tied up 2:25 into the third period.
3:19 p.m.: Patrick, after a very quiet first 39 minutes before his goal, is showing up a bit more this period. Has had a couple of good chances in the last few minutes that haven’t gone as we look for the tiebreaker with under 12 minutes left in regulation.
3:24 p.m.: Devils, for the first time in a while, look like the more in-control team for the moment. Not quite connecting on all of their passes, but they’re keeping the puck in the Philadelphia zone and forcing the Flyers into making tough decisions.
3:25 p.m.: Aw maaaaan, a nice entry and set of passes give the Flyers a chance in front but Simmonds(?) can’t push the puck into the open net. Devils quickly turn it around and Boyle can’t get a shot to Elliott on the rush. Things are opening back up here.
3:30 p.m.: Devils immediately get two cracks at the net following a faceoff in the Flyers’ end out of the TV timeout, forcing Elliott to make a save in the process. Gonna make this stressful, aren’t we?
3:35 p.m.: COME ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN Flyers don’t score generate great pressure from an offensive zone faceoff of their own. One excellent save by Kinkaid on Konecny, then another not long afterwards on Folin following a great cross-ice pass from Konecny. And then the Devils ice it. Let’s keep doing this!
3:37 p.m.: THEY DID KEEP DOING IT AND IT IS 3 TO 2 JAKUB VORACEK MY GOODNESS
3:39 p.m.: Homicide scene. Three men dead. Top suspect is an adult male, appeared to have red hair and a beard.
What a play by Voracek! pic.twitter.com/uEuKso979H— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 20, 2018
3:40 p.m.: Devils pull Kinkaid, Flyers turn the puck around, Giroux gets it to Simmonds, and the Flyers are going to win this game.
3:41 p.m.: And for good measure, the Devils stick with the empty net, and (after a bit of pressure and a near-miss in the offensive zone) the Flyers stick the Devils with another one. Lehtera to Voracek to a wide open Laughton, and this game will end by a score of 5-2. Thanks for playing, folks. Good win against a divisional rival that’s played some really strong hockey this season. Back to .500 for now. Colorado on Monday. Go Flyers.