On Military Appreciation Night, the Philadelphia Flyers closed out the 2020-21 season with a 4-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night. The Flyers finished the season with a 25-23-8 overall record and a head-to-head 4-4-0 mark against New Jersey.
Pavel Zacha (17th goal of the season) and Janne Kuokkanen (8th) built a quick 2-0 lead for the Devils in the first period. Joel Farabee (19th) got one back. Sean Couturier (18th) knotted the game at 2-2 in the second period. James van Riemsdyk (PPG, 17th) put the Flyers ahead for the first time before Farabee (20th of the season, 2nd of the game) scored a rebound insurance goal.
Brian Elliott got the start in goal; his 502nd game in the NHL. In what might have been his final game as a Flyer, Elliott earned the win with 23 saves on 25 shots.
Scott Wedgewood got the nod in net for New Jersey. He took the loss with 27 saves on 31 shots.
The Flyers went 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Shayne Gostisbehere re-entered the Flyers lineup after serving a two-game NHL suspension. Samuel Morin exited the lineup. The Flyers started the same forwards as they did in Washington over the weekend.
At the conclusion of the game, after congratulating Elliott, the Flyers players collectively raised their sticks as a thank you to the fans.
The Flyers were frustrated on each of their first three power plays of the game,. Finally, with the score tied at 2-2, the Flyers cashed in at 12:25 of the third period. Tape-to-tape passes from Claude Giroux to Sean Couturier to James van RIemsdyk led to an easy tip-in from the doorstep for JVR. With two assists in the game, Giroux has 585 helpers for his NHL career. He will enter the 2021-22 season needing three assists to catch and pass Paul Kariya and move into the NHL's all-time top 100 assist-getters in league history.
1) As has happened far too often this season, the Flyers got outplayed right off the hop to start the game. An early shift saw the Flyers need four tries to clear the defensive zone before the Devils brought the puck back in offside. Through the opening 10:26, the Devils held an 8-3 shot on goal edge.
Both ivan Provorov and Sean Couturier went for Nico Hischier, leaving Zacha wide open in front of the net to take a pass and score at 3:29. Jesper Bratt got the secondary assist. James van Riemsdyk elected to shoot on a 2-on-1 and was stopped by Wedgewood. At 5:21, after Nicolas Aube-Kubel blocked a Will Butcher shot, Kuokkanen claimed the puck at the bottom of the left circle and beat Elliott for a 2-0 lead. With a secondary assist, Yegor Sharangovich picked up his eighth point against the Flyers this season.
2) The Flyers got back to within 2-1 at 13:44 on a pretty goal off the rush. Kevin Hayes made a good pass to Farabee, who was one-on--one with Wedgewood. The second-year NHLer outmaneuvered the Devils' goal and tucked the puck home inside the left post. Wade Allison got the secondary helper.
Philly got the game's first power play with just 2.9 seconds left in the opening period. It started with a scoring chance for Gostisbehere skating in from the point. He was hooked by Zacha in an effort to break up the chance; not a bad penalty to take because Gostisbehere was in good position for a quality look at the net. The Flyers took 1:58 of PP time into the 2nd period.
3) The Flyers were not able to do much with either their carryover power play or a Devils too many men on the ice penalty (despite extensive offensive zone time and two good keeps at the point by Cam York). With Justin Braun having left the game in the first period due to an apparent injury, the Flyers rotated around various combinations on defense.
At 10:06 of the second period, the Flyers got the game tied up on a goal off an offensive zone entry. Puck carrier Travis Konecny passed from the left side over the middle to Claude Giroux. The Flyers' captain made a picturesque kick pass directly to Couturier at the right post and the 2020-21 Bobby Clarke Trophy winner buried it.
4) The Flyers got their third power play of the game at after Damon Severson was called for cross-checking JVR along the boards. The first half of the power play was ineffective but Philly generated pressure in the latter stages. In particular, Farabee had a good chance for his second goal of the game. After the penalty expired, Elliott made an excellent one-on-one skate save against Jesper Bratt. Second period shots were 10-8 in the Flyers' favor (20-19 Flyers through two periods).
5) The penalty-prone Nicolas Aube-Kubel took a neutral zone hooking penalty early in the third period but the Flyers killed it off. At 8:15, Scott Laughton was nabbed for a retaliatory slashing penalty near the benches. Philly killed that one off, too. With 8:47 left, the Flyers got their 4th power play of the game as Michael McLeod was called for slashing. JVR put the Flyers ahead to stay. Finally, at 16:08, a heavy shot by Allison produced a fat rebound that Farabee pounced on and deposited in the net for his 20th goal of the season and a 4-2 victory.