In a virtual must-win game to the Philadelphia Flyers against the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, the Flyers dropped a 4-3 decision. A third period desperation comeback bid fell short by a goal, as has recently been the case several times in March for Philadelphia.
New Jersey took a 2-1 lead to the first intermission. The Devils sandwiched one even strength 2-on-1 goal by Michael McLeod (4th goal of the season) and a Kyle Palmieri power play goal (6th) in the final six seconds of the period around a Joel Farabee power play tally (14th) that temporarily knotted the score.
After several near-misses by the Flyers, New Jersey built a 3-1 lead on a goal by Yegor Sharangovich (7th) as play near the midpoint of the second period. Travis Zajac (4th) scored from the doorstep with 24 seconds left in the frame to make it a 4-1 game. Sean Couturier (7th) got one back on a transition rush at 11:37 of the third period. Couturier scored again on a 6-on-5 with 1:02 left.
Carter Hart stopped 28 of 32 shots in a losing cause. Mackenzie Blackwood denied 30 of 33 Flyers shots.
The Flyers went 1-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
Instead of going to the first intermission tied at 1-1, the Flyers went off trailing. Neither Kevin Hayes nor Shayne Gostisbehere were able to get the puck to safety on a penalty kill and a turnover became Palmieri's goal. The Flyers never pulled even again, although they had some chances to do so in the first half of the second period and once again erased but not all of a big deficit in the third period.
1) The Flyers were outskated and outworked for significant portions of the first period ; New Jersey had a 14-8 shot edge and 28-11 shot attempt edge. Philly was fortunate to only be trailing 2-1 at intermission. Pavel Zacha hit the post on a shot where Hart was beaten. On the McLeod goal at 9:52, Travis Konecny lost his man on entry and Phil Myers got caught outside the dots on what became a 2-on-1 for the Devils. After taking a pass from Ty Smith, McLeod put a shift on Hart and scored on the backhand. A questionable holding penalty called on Travis Sanheim (whose own stick was being held by New Jersey's Mikhail Maltsev) became a go-ahead goal at 19:54. A turnover on a clearing opportunity led to a one-timer goal for Palmieri off a feed from Jesper Bratt.
2) Philly had two scoring chances of note in the first period. Second-effort and third-effort persistence from Farabee paid off as he jabbed at a Voracek rebound and the puck finally trickled over the goal line for a power play goal at 12:43. The other chance was a scramble around the net after Nolan Patrick dug a puck free around the crease, but Nicolas Aube-Kubel wasn't able to pot it.
3) Blackwood made an outstanding glove save on Konecny from the doorstep on an early second period power play for the Flyers. Philly had a shorthanded near-miss as Sean Couturier hit the post on a 2-on-1 pass from Farabee; Blackwood would have had no chance to stop it. Kevin Hayes later had a shorthanded breakaway but fired the puck high and wide of the net.
The Flyers momentarily dodged a bullet on a Devils 2-on-1 as Phil Myers took the puck away from a Devil near the blueline after Erik Gustafsson put a point shot into a shinpad. However, on the same shift, Myerst turned the puck over on a backhander behind the net and Sharangovich scored from inside the left hash mark off a pass-out from Travis Zajac at 9:32.
4) Philly's third power play of the game, trailing by two goals in the latter portion of the middle frame was dowright ugly; marked by low-percentage plays that broken up and an inability to get set up. Then, as they did in the first period, the Flyers yielded a goal in the final minute. Two soft plays in the defensive zone by the Flyers proved costly and Zajac ended up with a tap-in for a 4-1 lead. The assists went to Smith and Sharangovich.
5) Oskar Lindblom was denied twice right at the doorstep in the opening minute of the third period after stepping out from behind the net. Near the four-minute mark, Hart made two good saves in succession including one on Zajac on a tip from point-blank range and then one on Damon Severson from the right circle. The Flyers were quick in transition on the Couturier goal, as James van Riemsdyk passed ahead to Konecny. Couturier drove the net and stashed home the Konecny feed at 11:37. With Hart pulled for an extra attacker. Giroux was unable to score on a one-timer but JVR won a battle for the puck, Voracek center and Couturier scored from the slot. A Flyers icing with 5 seconds left short-circuited any chance of stealing a point.