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Flyers Gameday: 10/30/15 @ BUF, Flyers-Devils Wrapup

October 29, 2015, 11:19 PM ET [551 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
WRAPUP: FLYERS FALL TO DEVILS, 4-1

Coaches, players and general managers have changed for both teams since they met in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, but the results have scarcely changed whenever the Philadelphia Flyers play the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers have now lost seven of their last eight games (1-7-0) against the Devils following a 4-1 New Jersey victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

On Tuesday, the Flyers got outworked for most of the night by the Buffalo Sabres but rallied in the third period to rescue one point. They weren't so fortunate against the Devils.

"I don’t think we played good enough to win the hockey game," Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek said to the attending media during the postgame scrum. "It’s a good team, every game in the NHL is going to be hard, it’s going to be tough to find a way to win. Give them credit, they played great all game deserved two points.”

New Jersey severely outplayed the Flyers for long segments of the game, dominating everything from puck management to faceoffs. Philadelphia could not stay out of the penalty box, and it eventually caught up with them as the Devils capitalized on two of five chances. The Flyers went 0-for-2 on the faceoffs. Talking the talk about the need for a fast start, the Flyers instead got outshot by a 13-7 margin in the opening period. Later, two quick New Jersey goals in the third period put the Devils in total command of the game after the game entered the final stanza tied at 1-1.

Travis Zajac scored a pair of power play goals for the Devils, tying the game at 1-1 with 1:48 left in the middle frame and then giving his team a 3-1 lead at 2:32 of the third period. Kyle Palmieri put New Jersey ahead to stay at 1:28 of the final stanza, and also assisted on both Zajac goals. Andy Greene tacked on a late empty net goal to round out the scoring. Winning goalie Cory Schneider turned back 27 of 28 shots.

Steve Mason held New Jersey off the board for 38-plus minutes when the Flyers deserved to be trailing. However, he was unable to stop the Devils' deluge late in the second period and early in the third.

"I think they were playing with more speed this year than they have in the past," Mason said. "They had numerous shots in the first. Typically they’re kind of a slower pace team, but they have some speed up front now. They play a tough game to play against. They’re patient and they wait for things, but they also can create as well."

Zajac's first goal was a tip-in from point blank range. Palmieri's goal, scored after blocking an Evgeny Medvedev shot and skating off up the left wing with Nick Schultz as the closest defender in pursuit. The righthanded shooting Palmieri placed a perfect shot in the top corner of the long side. Zajac's second goal was a backhander from the mid-slot that also beat Mason high to the blocker side.

The Flyers' lone goal came at 15:04 of the second period. Luke Schenn pinched up to the right half boards, collected the puck and fired a seeing-eye side angle shot that found a hole. Originally registered as an unassisted goal, the scoring on the play was changed after the game to award assists to Vincent Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn.

Otherwise, the Flyers continued to find little but frustration offensively. Still looking for his first goal of the season, Jakub Voracek put six shots on net in seven attempts -- he now has 40 shots through nine games -- and once again came away empty.

"[Our line has] 20 minutes a game, we have to make sure to produce. We score one goal a game, it’s not good as a line. We eat up 1:20 on the power play and 20 minutes as a line on the ice during a game, we have to make sure we find a way to produce because in those games, yesterday and today, it could help us to find a way to win the game," Voracek said.

To make matters worse, a Voracek turnover during a Flyers third period carryover power play early in the third period put Philly back on its heels and they never really recovered. Meanwhile, the Flyers were guilty of a pair of too many men on the ice penalties in the game, the latter of which was turned into Zajac's second goal.

"It wasn’t a good start for us and it set us back the whole period. We have to come out more ready to take advantage of opportunities. We kind of just gave them the opportunities and they capitalized," Mason said.

Making his first appearance of the regular season, Lecavalier skated just 7:16 of ice time; the least of any player for either team. He was partially responsible for the Flyers' second too-many-men penalty and skated just one legitimate shift thereafter (apart from going out for the final seven seconds of the game after Greene's empty net goal). Earlier, Lecavalier had one decent scoring chance, skating down the left wing.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol took the heat on himself for the too many men penalties.

"I've got to communicate better on the bench. That's the bottom line," Hakstol said.

The Flyers have yielded three opposition power play goals in the last two games by virtue of opposing players getting to areas that make it extremely difficult for goaltenders to make saves. The Flyers coach pledged to get the problem corrected.

"Our penalty killing has been doing a really good job pushing things to the outside. We've given up three in the past two games in critical areas. We'll address that. As a group I don't think any of us are happy about that," Hakstol said.

At even strength, Hakstol juggled line combinations over the latter portion of the game. It made little difference. The Devils were content to repeatedly ice the puck whenever there was a semblance of Philadelphia pressure, and New Jersey often ended up winning the ensuing defensive zone draws.

**********

PREVIEW: FLYERS @ SABRES

Opening a five-game road trip and looking to shake off back-to-back subpar games, Dave Hakstol's Philadelphia Flyers (4-3-2) are in New York State on Friday night to take on Dan Bylsma's Buffalo Sabres (3-7-0). Game time at the First Niagara Center is 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on The Comcast Network Philadelphia.

This is the second of three games between the teams this season and the Flyers' lone visit to Buffalo. The season series will wrap up with a rubber game at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 11.

On Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the Sabres prevailed 4-3 in overtime. Tyler Ennis and Jamie McGinn (power play, first goal of the season) gave the Sabres a two-goal shortly past the mid-point of the opening period. After the Flyers' Chris VandeVelde trimmed the deficit to 2-1 before the first intermission, the score held until the third period.

Outplayed early in the third period, the Flyers struck for a line-rush goal by Brayden Schenn to tie the game at 2-2 with 11:16 left in regulation. Less than two minutes later, Jake McCabe weaved a shot through heavy traffic into the net. With time ticking down under the final minute of play and the Flyers skating 6-on-5 with an empty net, Schenn notched his second goal of the period off a double-deflection originally shot by Claude Giroux.

In overtime, Sabres' starting goaltender Chad Johnson made a nearly miraculous save on Scott Laughton. Moments later, Zemgus Girgensons took a pass from ex-Flyers defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and went off on a breakaway. Girgensons snapped a shot between Steve Mason's pads to end the game.

Both the Flyers and Sabres are playing for the third time in four nights. After this game, the Flyers return to action on Monday as they begin a four-game-in-six-night sojourn in western Canada. The Sabres have a road game against the New York Islanders on Sunday and then are off for three nights before hosting the defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.

Flyers Outlook

The Flyers have played bad hockey on just about every front over the last two games. They have given up way too many shots -- both in quantity and quality. They've had trouble scoring. Both ends of special teams have come up small.

Former Sabres goaltender, Michal Neuvirth is likely to get the start in goal on Friday. He last played on Oct. 21, leaving the game after the first period due to an injury sustained when he was accidentally hit in the head by the stick of Boston center Patrice Bergeron.

On the injury front, Sean Couturier (concussion) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (out approximately two weeks with a lower-body injury sustained in Tuesday's game) are both out of the Philadelphia lineup. Couturier skated on his own prior to the Flyers' morning skate on Thursday.

Sabres Outlook

As they did in Tuesday's game against the Flyers, the Sabres put a barrage of shots on goal in Thursday's road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins skated off with a 4-3 regulation win despite a 53-29 shot edge for the Sabres. Buffalo has racked up 93 shots on goal over its last two games.

Buffalo trailed Pittsburgh 2-0 in the first period but came back to knot the score on goals Jamie McGinn and Nicolas Deslauriers. The Pens struck back in the middle frame to re-take a two-goal lead. In the final frame, Matt Moulson scored a late goal to cut the gap back to one goal but the Sabres could not find an equalizer.

Chad Johnson stopped 25 of 29 shots in a losing cause on Thursday night. With the back-to-back and three-in-four scheduling, it seems likely that Linus Ullmark will get the start in net for the Sabres on Friday.

Buffalo is missing several key players due to injury: Evander Kane (knee), Robin Lehner (ankle), Zach Bogosian (lower-body injury) and Cody McCormick (leg) are on injured reserve.
Tyler Ennis is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He did not play against Pittsburgh.


PROJECTED LINEUPS (Based on Thursday, subject to change)

FLYERS

12 Michael Raffl - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read - 89 Sam Gagner - 17 Wayne Simmonds
20 R.J. Umberger - 21 Scott Laughton - 10 Brayden Schenn
40 Vincent Lecavalier - 76 Chris VandeVelde - 25 Ryan White

15 Michael Del Zotto - 32 Mark Streit
55 Nick Schultz - 82 Evgeny Medvedev
23 Brandon Manning - 22 Luke Schenn

35 Steve Mason
[30 Michal Neuvirth]

Scratches: Radko Gudas (healthy), Sean Couturier (concussion), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (lower body).


SABRES

44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 82 Marcus Foligno
22 Johan Larsson - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
25 Matt Moulson - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
17 David Legwand - 59 Tim Schaller - 88 Jamie McGinn

4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 3 Mark Pysyk
25 Carlo Colaiacovo or 6 Mike Weber - 46 Cody Franson

35 Linus Ullmark
[31 Chad Johnson]

Scratches: Mike Weber (healthy), Tyler Ennis (day-to-day, lower body), Evander Kane (IR, knee), Robin Lehner (IR, ankle), Cody McCormick (IR, leg), Zach Bogosian (IR, lower body).
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