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Devils host desperate Flyers in home opener

by Mike G. Morreale

FLYERS (0-2-0) at DEVILS (1-0-0)


Season series: First of five meetings this season. The teams split the season series in 2011-12, with Flyers captain Claude Giroux collecting four goals and seven points and Wayne Simmonds finishing with three goals and five points. For the Devils, Ilya Kovalchuk led the team with eight points, including six assists and Patrik Elias, who scored the winner in a 4-3 shootout decision on Nov. 3, produced five points (one goal, four assists).

Big story: The Flyers have opened the season with two straight losses for the first time since 2008-09, so expect the club to take a must-win approach at Prudential Center in Newark. After dropping a 3-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins in its home opener on Saturday, the Flyers suffered a 5-2 setback to the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Philadelphia is just 1-for-9 on the power-play and has allowed five power-play goals in nine times shorthanded.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia opened a 2-1 lead against the Sabres on Sunday with second-period goals from Sean Couturier and Giroux, but Buffalo would strike for four unanswered to earn a three-goal decision. The Sabres scored three power-play goals, including two with Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn in the box. Forward Zac Rinaldo played 2:47 of the first period before limping off the ice with a skate cut following a collision with Buffalo's Robyn Regehr. If Rinaldo is unable to resume fourth-line duty against the Devils, expect Tye McGinn to fill that role.

Devils: New Jersey opened the season with a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y., on Saturday. David Clarkson scored 65 seconds after the home team had pulled even to give New Jersey the win. Clarkson, who scored a career-high 30 goals last season, put the Devils ahead for good when his screened shot from the right circle ticked the skate of an Isles defenseman before floating between the legs of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Travis Zajac scored the Devils first goal in the second period.

The victory was the first season-opening triumph for the Devils since 2008, also a 2-1 victory over the Islanders. New Jersey is now 4-0 against the Isles in season-opening contests. Devils rookie Stefan Matteau made his NHL debut on Saturday, notching three shots and delivering one hit in 7:26 of ice time. Matteau skated on a line with Jacob Josefson and Cam Janssen.

Who's hot: Clarkson, who scored the game-winner against the Islanders on Saturday, led the Devils with seven game-winners in 2011-12. … Giroux has two goals to open the season for the Flyers. It marks the second year in a row the Flyers captain has scored in each of the season's first two games -- he scored in each of the team's first three games in 2011-12.

Injury report: The Flyers will be without center Danny Briere (left wrist) for at least two more games. Rinaldo will be sidelined at least seven days after being accidentally cut by the skate of Regehr during a first-period collision on Sunday that required 20 stitches above his right knee.

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