In the fourth game of a four-game gauntlet between the teams, the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday evening.
Jesper Bratt (7th goal of the season) opened the scoring in the first period. Janne Kuokkanen (7th) opened a 2-0 lead in the first minute of the middle period. Nico Hischier (6th) added a shorthanded tally at 5:14 of the first period. Yegor Sharangovich (15th) closed out the scoring for New Jersey. In the final 1:18, Joel Farabee broke up the Devils' shutout bid.
Brian Elliott was not sharp in net for the Flyers. He finished with 17 saves on 21 shots. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 31 of 32 Flyers' shots.
The Flyers went 0-for-2 on the power play with a shorthanded goal allowed, and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Shayne Gostisbehere returned to the Flyers' lineup after missing a week with a sprained MCL. A healthy scratch on Thursday, Kevin Hayes returned to the Flyers' starting lineup for this game, along with Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Jackson Cates and Carsen Twarynski, starters on Thursday, exited the lineup.
The Flyers did not give up much in the way of shot quantity or quality for two-plus periods but the far-too-familiar storyline of costly bad reads and makeable saves that ended up in the net -- not to their own scoring chances that didn't get buried -- put Philly in a 3-0 hole by early in the third period.
1) It took New Jersey exactly five minutes to post the game's first four shots on goal and the first that went in the net. Elliott was beaten to the short side over the glove on a right-circle shot by Bratt. The assists went to Pavel Zacha and Kevin Bahl.
New Jersey only put one shot on goal over the remaining 15 minutes of the period, but took a 1-0 lead to intermission.
2) Right near the seven minute mark of the first period, Wade Allison was denied by Blackwood's pads on a rebound attempt near the net. At 9:59, the Flyers thought they'd been gifted a tying goal by the Devils. Sharangovich tried to tuck the puck to goaltender Blackwood after Laughton put it out front but accidentally put it through the five-hole. The referee signaled it was a goal for the Flyers but replays showed the puck sitting on -- but not all the way over -- the goal line. Nicolas Aube-Kubel hit the post from prime shooting range later in the period. Late in the stanza, the Flyers were unable to score on a scramble around the net after an Ivan Provorov shot rebounded in front. Shots were 9-5 Flyers.
3) The Devils took a 2-0 lead just 52 seconds into the second period as Kuokkanen scored on a pass from Jack Hughes. The sequence started with a long stretch pass in which Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere let two Devils forwards get behind them in the neutral zone. The Devils fumbled the puck but got it back and the Flyers never recovered. Sharangovich earned the secondary assist.
4) Midway through regulation, the Flyers had a 13-7 shot edge but New Jersey had the only two in the cash register. The Flyers' first power play generated a lot of pressure -- and a Gostisbehere shot off the post -- but no goal. Joel Farabee took a holding penalty behind the New Jersey net moments after he had a scoring chance from the left wing. The Flyers killed it off. The line of Oskar Lindblom, Laughton and Allison generated a strong forechecking shift and Allison had his second prime scoring chance of the game but couldn't get the puck past Blackwood. Second period shots were 13-9 in the Flyers' favor (22-14 Flyers overall).
5) The Flyers' 2nd power play of the game turned disastrous on a turnover, a 2-on-1 led by Hischier and the Swiss forward beating Elliott from the right circle for an unassisted shorthanded goal and a 3-0 New Jersey lead at 5:14. Another situation that started with a bad read and, then, where a save was desperately needed and seemingly makeable. At 14:59, the Flyers turned a puck over the defensive zone to Jack Hughes, who fed Sharangovich for a 4-0 lead. Farabee's late goal served only to foil Blackwood's shutout bid.