The Flyers, who have not played a game in five days, took to the ice against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers have had a rough time getting their play going after a recent couple of breaks in play due to the end of the year holidays. The Flyers struggled in games against both the Penguins and then the Panthers. The Flyers hope to not make the same mistakes against the Devils in north Jersey.
The Flyers once again started a game after a break with substandard play. The started with Travis Sanheim losing his stick in the far corner that led to a total break down on the defensive end. After Sanheim lost his stick it allowed a three on one against Radko Gudas in front of the Flyers net. The original pass across was blocked on a diving play by Gudas but the rebound bounced right to Nico Hischier who gave Jesper Bratt a tap into the empty net for the one to nothing lead.
The Flyers looked one step slower than the Devils in the first period which caused them to take the first two of five straight penalties in the game. The lone bright spot in the period came on an Andrew MacDonald shot that was deflected by Jordan Weal in front of the net which caused Cory Schneider to have to come up with a big save. The rebound of Weal’s deflection ended up landing right in front of Sean Couturier who had the empty net tap in to tie the game at one.
The Flyers penalty troubles continued in the second period when they picked up their fourth straight penalty a minute into the second when Nolan Patrick got his stick on Bratt. The Devils did not waste any time regaining the lead when Kyle Palmeri sent a wrist shot on net that Brian Elliott seemed to lose his position in the net allowing the shot to go short side next to his blocker for the two to one lead.
After giving up five straight power plays to the Devils the Flyers finally were able to go on the power play when John Moore hooked Jakub Voracek. The Flyers did not let the opportunity go to waste when Wayne Simmonds tipped a Claude Giroux shot past Schneider to make the game two all. The Devils then were the team with the sloppy play causing a second straight penalty on the team. Brian Gibbons got called for interference with just under four minutes to go in the period.
With the Flyers second power play nearly at its end Sean Couturier was able to give the Flyers their first lead of the game when he picked up his 25th goal of the season with a great one time shot from the slot. The goal resulted from a nice give and go between Couturier and Giroux.
After taking the lead so late in the period the Flyers had to expect the Devils to make a push when the third period started and the Devils did not waste any time before stepping up their play. With the Devils pushing the play in the Flyers end, Couturier was able to get to a loose puck and tip it to Ivan Provorov for the clear lane out of the Flyers zone. Provorov must have had other ideas in mind when he received the puck in the high slot. Provorov noticed that Travis Konecny was able to get behind the Devils Defense and sent a breakaway pass that Konecny was able to put his own rebound past Schneider to extend the Flyers lead by two.
The Flyers all but put the game away with just under eight minutes to go in the game when Michael Raffl put home a backhander over the glove of a sprawling Schnider. Jakub Voracek picked up his league-leading 45th assist of the year on the goal which gives him a five-assist lead on Claude Giroux. The two players are also separated by only one point in the overall points lead in the NHL with only Nikita Kucherov ahead of them. The Devils were able to pick up a late goal by Drew Stafford on the power play with under a minute to play in the game. The win gives the Flyers four straight wins after the disappointing game against the Penguins and they have now jumped over both the Islanders and the Hurricanes in the standings. The Flyers now also sit only one point behind the Penguins for the last wild-card spot with two games in hand.
The Flyers next opponent will be the New York Rangers who occupy one of the two wild-card spots in the east. The Flyers only trail the Rangers by one point in the Eastern Conference standings. The franchise record between the two teams currently stands at 122 W 121 L 37 T 9 OTL. The Flyers have dropped five of the last six meetings between the two teams and the Rangers taking two of the three games last season.