In the second half of the two-game mini-series in Newark, New Jersey, the Flyers and Devils met at The Prudential Center. Carter Hart got the start after getting some time off to reflect and refocus himself after last week’s outcome.
Claude Giroux started the game with a missed breakaway opportunity when the puck slid off his stick at the last moment. Both teams traded off offensive zone possession in the first period as the Devils and Flyers swapped goals. Damon Severson took a chance against a changing Flyers line and placed the puck perfectly under Hart’s blocker to ring it off the post and in. Minutes later, the newest face to enter the Flyers defensive pairs, Nate Prosser, swept a greasy goal past Scott Wedgewood.
The second period brought on a lot of one sided play by no other than the New Jersey Devils. Flyers were dealt two penalties during the second frame, and we’re able to kill them both off. The second period’s glaring moment was that the Flyers had only taken 8 shots on Mackenzie Blackwood through 40 minutes of play. Claude Giroux looked like he was ready to go on a tear after taking a couple of low blows during the period that led to no calls by the referees.
The Flyers must have taken some magic beans during the second intermission when they came out with all cylinders pumping. Maybe not magic beans, but Alain Vigneault must have had some words to say about the lack of shots. The fourth line’s grinding gave the Flyers the go-ahead goal on another greasy tuck in by Michael Raffl early on in the third period. Claude Giroux finally picked up his first goal of the year later on in the period to extend the lead to 3-1 and finish off the scoring for the Flyers.
Flyers vs. Devils: Three Takeaways
The Russian Machine
Every time you turn around, you see the number “9” on the ice for the Flyers on the blueline. It appears that there is no stopping Ivan Provorov when it comes to his ice time. He has hit a career-high of 30:46 TOI during this season, and it does not look like he will say no to more.
When someone is playing that much during the game, they make themself noticeable in more ways than one. He is always the quarterback on PP1, playing crucial minutes killing penalties, and he is typically leading the team in blocked shots throughout the night. This night, in particular, Provy had logged 27:38 TOI and led the team in blocks with 4. We can expect the Russian Machine to lead the minutes throughout the season as it increases his confidence and overall play.
Fourth Line Grinders
The combined effort of Nick Aube-Kubel, Connor Bunnaman, and Michael Raffl were entrusted with a lot of defensive zone faceoffs, and they were always found in the offensive zone forechecking the Devils’ defense. At times, it seemed like the Devils were never going to get out of their zone due to the peskiness of this line.
All three players on that line combined for a point on Michael Raffl’s goal. The hard work forechecking of this line led to the collapse of the Devils’ defense and allowed Connor Bunnaman to get the puck past Blackwood and allow Michael Raffl to have the empty net.
The fourth line started the third period and outworked the entire Devils teams throughout the third period. Much like Provorov, it seemed that those three players were forcing plays on the Devils every time you looked up during the game. Vigneault trusted this line to get it done during the final frame of this game, and they were rewarded for it with the eventual game-winning goal.
Hart Back To Doing Hart Things
Looking to bounce back after a terrible outing against the Bruins and Sabres last week, Hart was slated to start his first game in five days. It turns out the music that he has been listening to and the guitar that he has been strumming helped center and focus himself in preparation for last night’s game. Hart played the way all fans have been expecting him to play this season.
Once again, Hart kept this team in this game when he stood on his head, making save after save. Hart saved 33 of 34 shots taken by the Devils. When Severson had scored that goal against him, it was as if Carter Hart forgot it ever happened and buckled down to blank the Devils the rest of the way. Expect Hart and Elliott split the starts this weekend as they take on the Islanders in a back to back set at home.
The Flyers put together an impressive win, and once again, their best period came from the third period. They brought all of the energy throughout the third and helped Hart regain some much-needed confidence. Nate Prosser brought a veteran presence to the defensive core and scored his first goal as an Orange and Black member. Claude Giroux finally getting a goal will help kick start his season after a slow start.
Expect the Flyers to take a day’s rest before going back to work on Saturday. This weekend sets up a back-to-back homestand against their playoff foes, the New York Islanders. New York will be coming into Philadelphia with one thing on their minds, win. They have lost back to back games against the Washington Capitals and will be certainly using that energy towards the Flyers.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire