To the Philadelphia Flyers, the return of captain Chris Pronger on Thursday night meant a lot more than their 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Improving to 4-1-1 in the preseason was nice, but having Pronger playing a regular shift was even better. Pronger is coming off offseason surgeries on his back and wrist -- he has had five operations (knee, foot, hand, back, wrist) since July 2010.
Pronger finished with 19:35 of ice time and assisted on Wayne Simmonds' second-period goal in what's likely to be his only preseason game -- he said he doesn't expect to play in the rematch Saturday night in Newark. His next appearance figures to be on opening night at Boston next Thursday.
"I felt OK," he said. "The first period was pretty fast, a good way to kind of get back into the flow. ... Get into a few scrums, get into a few pushing matches, kind of see how you feel and go from there."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was glad to get Pronger some game action before opening night.
"I don't think it's one of those situations where he has to be there and he's not trying to prove anything," he said. "He's played a lot of games in his career. If he just walked into the Boston game, I'm sure we'd get a great effort out of him.
"There's also something to be said for coming back and finding your timing and getting into the live battles and finding your game. It was good he wanted to get back and get into the game."
Jaromir Jagr continued to fit right in with his new team. Jagr, who with the Flyers this summer after three years in Russia, scored his fourth goal in three preseason games with his new team. With the game tied 1-1 and Zach Parise in the box for goaltender interference, Jagr set up at the post to the left of Martin Brodeur and managed to convert a cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux at 12:48 -- despite breaking his stick on the shot.
"He's a good fit on that hockey team," Brodeur said. "He's still got it. It's pretty amazing to see him after a few years out of the League."
Stephane Veilleux gave the Devils a 1-0 lead 14 seconds into the second period, swatting a rebound past Ilya Bryzgalov. Simmonds tied it at 12:49 with a power-play goal, picking up the rebound of Giroux's shot in the slot and whipping it past Brodeur.
Despite allowing two goals, Brodeur looked like he was in midseason form, making a number of outstanding saves among his 25 stops and earning praise from his coach.
"I liked Brodeur's game," Peter DeBoer said. "I thought he was outstanding. There was a lot of positives tonight other than the score."
Though New Jersey is just 1-3-0 in the preseason, DeBoer said he's not worried about the losses.
"Not when you lose like we did tonight," he said. "That's pretty much Philadelphia's lineup other than (James) van Riemsdyk. That looked like a regular-season game to me at ice level. We played a good hockey game. If you're asking me would I rather win 5-0 and play poorly, no, I'd rather lose 2-1 and play like we did tonight.
"In the preseason only," he added.
One area in which the Devils need improvement is penalty-killing -- they've now allowed five power-play goals in their last two games.
"I'm not concerned about it," DeBoer said. "We've been working on it. We're trying some guys out in those situations and it's sink or swim. But I'm not concerned about it. I think we'll have a very good penalty kill."
Material from team media was used in this report