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Devils prepare to host Flyers

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Encouraged by their first two periods against Boston, the Devils aim to deliver a complete, 60-minute performance Saturday against the Flyers.

Philadelphia, which has dropped two of its last three, visits the Rock for a 1 p.m. puck drop.

The Devils carried the play early before faltering late in Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Boston struck for all four of its goals in the third period, snapping New Jersey's three-game winning streak.

"For 40 minutes I thought we had a pretty good pace to the game," Dainius Zubrus said. "I thought we were outplaying them, outchancing them. Then we're pressing pretty hard for that second goal and we never got it. That part would have helped. They pushed back pretty good, we started hesitating again. If you look at the video, and we did, we gave them some holes that normally we wouldn't and we shouldn't."

The Devils (26-18-2) have split two meetings with the division-rival Flyers. They avenged a 3-0 setback in their Oct. 8 home opener by capturing a 4-3 shootout win in Philly on Nov. 3. The Flyers are the only team to have blanked coach Peter DeBoer's squad this season. 

"We're going to get a lot of the same as we did against Boston," DeBoer said. "A team ahead of us in the standings that we're trying to track down. Our desperation level has to be high. Our attention to detail and systems has to be good for 60 minutes.

"We worked for the majority of the game [Thursday] night and did a real good job, but those teams show you that you go to sleep for a shift or a couple of shifts or take a bad penalty or make a mistake, they make you pay. That's why they've done what they've done over the last year."

Boston held Adam Henrique's top line with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk off the scoresheet. They put five shots on Tim Thomas, but wound up a combined -5.

"The top lines have to be the best in order to give yourself a chance to win." Henrique said. "We had some chances last night but couldn't get one in. They ended up getting a few bounces and getting a few goals and that was the difference. We have to take care of our own end, but we have to contribute offensively, too, to give ourselves a chance."

One loss, however, is unlikely to derail the good thing the Devils have going. They're 14-6-1 in their last 21 games and held a two-point lead on eighth-place Florida entering Friday's action.

DeBoer said the team's mood is where it needs to be to take on the Flyers, who are just four points ahead in the Atlantic Division.

"I think it was pretty good," he said. "Any time we lose, we're disappointed. I think we expect to win, which is a good sign. We definitely weren't holding any parties or parades in there. At the same time, I think we all know that the focus has to shift now to a real important game against Philly."

The Devils want to get back to playing their game against Philadelphia.

"Stay with what works for us," Zubrus said. "If they beat us making three, four great passes, then so be it. But I think we have to stay aggressive and make them make those plays. We have to be way tougher to play against. In the third [against Boston], we kind of fell back a little bit."

He added: "We've had these sort of setbacks before, usually we responded. Now it's another  big division game, huge points, and this second half I think there will be tons of those games. Every one of them is very important."

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