But before we dive into the recap, I need to take a moment to offer a nod to the coaching that took place, heading into this matchup. Lyon finally starting! Leier in for Goulbourne! Laughton promoted to the third line! A solid top nine at last! Wow!
But that’s enough excitement. Let’s get into the recap.
The second line kicked things off, winning the opening faceoff, collecting the puck, and promptly icing it. A stoppage of play. Let’s try that again. A successful faceoff led them into a bit of run and gun, culminating in the first shot on goal of the evening, which Lyon handled with relative ease.
A handful more stopped shots later and the even strength battle was halted, as Patrick took a hooking penalty and sent the Flyers to the penalty kill. They were able to do a bit of good work early, but with the Devils set up in the zone and the Flyers spacing out, space was allowed for a cross ice pass to Palmeri, who lasered it into the high corner for the first goal of the game.
But the Flyers responded well, with both the Patrick and Laughton lines getting to work in the offensive zone, each generating their own chances, but weren’t able to capitalize on them
And then they had their own first chance on the power play, as Raffl drew a penalty on Mueller, and off they went. The first unit got to work immediately, cycling the puck around the zone, looking sharp early. And their luck would continue, as just as it looked like the Devils were breaking them up, Zajac tooks a cross-checking penalty, giving the Flyers the two-man advantage.
They didn’t need much time to get it done, as the first unit continued to bring the offensive pressure. A broken play by the Devils led to Giroux putting the puck in the back of the net, snapping his scoring drought. Tie game. Woo!
Goals from Claude are truly the best goals. pic.twitter.com/mEvIMEG3Cd— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 2, 2018
And we’ve still got power play time! The Devils kept the Flyers pretty quiet, breaking up their pressure. And then … well you’ve got to see this for yourself.
Alex Lyon, with balls of steel, races for the puck and wins. pic.twitter.com/JpBMICecgl— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 2, 2018
The puck went out of play, but it wasn’t called a penalty, but the rest of the power play was effectively killed off. But, no matter, back at even strength, they were able to keep the pressure up in the offensive zone. They were able to generate a good look, shuffling the puck around the zone, but their pressure was broken up when play was stopped after a Gudas shot was deflected into the safety netting.
Things unfortunately stayed bad for Gudas, as he crashed into Palmeri and took an interference penalty. And then--okay I looked down to type for a second and now everyone’s fighting WHAT IS HAPPENING.
We have three Flyers in the box. It’s Gudas, Voracek, and Manning. The only penalty showing is Gudas’s. I just… what???
Okay. Now that it’s all said and done we’ve got: Interference on Gudas. Offsetting roughing minors. Offsetting fighting majors. A Devils power play. Whew.
And the subsequent penalty kill was ... well, it wasn’t pretty. MacDonald was without a stick. Couturier gave him his and then had to get one of his own from the bench. He gets it. We’re back to everyone having sticks but the Devils are set up too cleanly, and just like that, Stafford threw a puck in for a redirection goal.
And, oh, oh my, it’s another fight. Zajac and Gudas are going at in front of the net. Both went off, but Zajac picked up the instigating penalty, giving the Flyers the power play. And we may never know even strength again.
It didn’t start out pretty, but the Flyers were able to get it done. Dumping the puck into the zone, Simmonds was able to collect it behind the net to keep the play alive and get the puck out to the blue line. And all that was left for him to do was tip in a shot from his office. The prototypical Simmonds goal and I am here for it.
Wayne Simmonds scores on the PP— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 2, 2018
2-2 in NJ pic.twitter.com/75gyP2NpDa
And we’ve hit our first shift back and-- ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Crossing the blue line, Raffl was called for interference and we are back to the penalty kill. I am so tired.
It was a penalty kill unlike the others, as the Flyers didn’t put up quite a stunning effort, but an effective one, at the very least. The Devils still were able to get a few good looks, but the Flyers were able to break up those chances and keep the puck cleared. An unexpected result, given the track record through the first period, but a welcomed one, all the same.
And just like that, with a bit of even strength time with the Flyers cycling the puck around the offensive zone, time expired and we (finally) hit the first intermission.
AFTER ONE: Flyers 2, Devils 2
After the longest period ever, we’re back at it for the second period. There are no penalties. No one’s fighting yet. Cool.
But it’s a turnover-fest descending on the Flyers as they’re trying to get the heck out of their own zone. It was MacDonald twice along the blue line. Then it was Gudas deeper in zone.
And now we’re about five minutes into the period, play is going on, and the commentators are having a very important conversation about Alex Lyon, Yale, Baudette, MN, and walleye fishing. I have no other words for this. Again I must ask what is happening.
This finally comes to an end and play is continuing. The Flyers broke up the Devils’ pressure and brought the puck out of the zone and deep into the Devils’ own zone. Getting set in the crease, a sharp angle pass by Filppula deflected off Leier’s stick to Gostisbehere, who blew it right past Kinkaid to put the Flyers back on top.
After a bit more work in the offensive zone kept the Flyers looking sharp, putting in good work, but a breakdown sent Bratt flying in the other direction on a breakaway. It had the potential to be dangerous, but Lyon, looking steadier, handled it with ease, neutralizing that threat.
And what more was to come? More of the same. The Flyers looked dominant in the second as they kept working in the offensive zone.
Then a bit of danger! With the Devils rushing into the offensive zone, the play was broken up, Palmeri lost his edge and sent Wood flying into Lyon. Palmeri and Lyon seemed to be unhurt, but Wood left the ice in some discomfort. And what could have been a catastrophe was somehow avoided.
However, it seemed like we had a bit more bad news: the Flyers got back into the zone, trying to get back to creating chances, when Konecny took an interference penalty and sent the Devils back to the power play. An early pad save by Lyon was about the highest bit of activity for New Jersey through the two minutes, as the Flyers’ penalty kill looked more aggressive and effective than in previous attempts. A Raffl breakout brought a decent looking chance for the Flyers, and while it was broken up, it still ate up a fair bit of time. The Flyers were able to keep the puck cleared for the remainder of the penalty, and successfully avoided giving up another goal.
AFTER TWO: Flyers 3, Devils 2
The third period kicked off with speed, as the Devils got to work with speed and tried to make a push to negate the Flyers’ lead, but it was a no-go, as the Flyers broke up their rush.
Let’s, if we may, take a moment to offer a nod to Nolan Patrick: his play along the boards early in the period was a thing of beauty, as he kept the puck tied up and controlled, even as he was taken to the ice, preventing the Devils from collecting it. A job well done. But, anyway.
And after a bit more of the same back and forth, a bit more danger, as Hall broke into the zone with speed and Provorov fell down along the boards, leaving Hall uncovered and left alone to face Lyon. He was able to
If you’re feeling like we’ve had a lot of movement but not much high activity, well, you’d be right. We’re more than eight minutes into the period and have only had two shots, total. So there’s that.
But that didn’t last for long. With the Devils kicking into another gear, they got the puck into the zone and tied up in the corner. With a cluster assembling of players digging away at it, it was Zacha that came up with it, zipping the puck around to Severson in the front of the net, who knocked it home before anyone could really process what was happening. And we were tied again.
From here we hit a period where the Flyers just could not get out of their own zone. They brought three shifts in a row where they would get hemmed in, chip the puck out of the zone, go for a change when the Devils would collect again and send them back into their own zone. They didn’t get a real moment of reprieve until Weal was able to break out of the zone with Laughton, who brought the Flyers’ best scoring chance of the period, ultimately neutralized by Kinkaid.
And it was Laughton who was at the center of the next scoring chance. After the Flyers spent a bit more time caught in their own zone, it was Raffl this time who got things moving in the opposite direction and sent a shot in on goal. Laughton was there to try to pick up the rebound, but the net was off its moorings and Kinkaid was spinning out, and play was halted once again.
With a bit of offense before the TV timeout, the story of the return for the Flyers was that of breakdowns, as their passes were broken up in the neutral zone and struggled to get moving through it.
The Devils took over from here, picking up control of the puck and moving into the zone with speed. And who else but Hischier whould be the one to make the play in the crease, finding the opening in Lyon’s five hole to propel the Devils into the lead.
With under two minutes remaining, the Flyers pulled Lyon to get the extra attacker out. A bit of good movement in the zone was for no avail. The puck was cleared as the last few seconds ticked away, and they picked up their third consecutive loss.
FINAL: Devils 4, Flyers 3