With 9 out of a possible 10 points over their last 5 games, the Devils came into a hostile arena to continue their hot streak. Up against the best team in the league on the road, they came in shorthanded (without Nick Palmieri and Vladimir Zharkov), fought and won 3-1. Not just against any team with problems (Dan Ellis related and all), but a fully healthy Flyers team that has beaten them in their last 6 regular season visits to Philadelphia. The win, while it wasn't a blowout, was a good one. The Devils were focused and managed to avoid getting sidetracked by the Flyers antics, which included a two handed chop by Mike Richards on Dainius Zubrus in the first, a pair of hits from behind on Tim Sestito and a crosscheck from behind by Claude Giroux on Patrik Elias.
If there was anything that stood out for me tonight, it was the play of Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito and David Clarkson. While they did not make an appearance on the scoresheet, they were a big thorn in the side of the Flyers, especially to their top line. I might have panicked a few times out of reflex, but they stood their ground. They gave them a very hard time in both zones and frustrated them quite a bit. Scott Hartnell even went out of his way to throw a hit on Sestito after the play was dead. That ended up being huge because the Devils would need all the help they could get against a team as deep as the Flyers are.
In the end, it was an enjoyable win and it's given the Devils their first 3 game winning streak since Ilya Kovalchuk has joined the team. The Flyers fans were unhappy with their performance, which is shown in Travis Hughes' recap over at Broad Street Hockey. Video highlights and some more thoughts after the jump.
Early on, the Devils were dominating. The Flyers didn't get a lot of chances and most of the play ended up in the Flyers zone. After a rush by the Devils, a botched clearing attempt by Mike Richards went straight to Henrik Tallinder, who blasted one through traffic for the Devils first goal. After the goal however, they continued to put pressure on the Flyers, and Patrik Elias was able to work down low and slide one past Boucher to increase the lead, as Chris Pronger was occupied with Brian Rolston and his partner Sean O'Donnell couldn't do much from where he was. At the end of the period, the Wells-Fargo center was irate and booing their team for their lack of effort in the first.
Then came, the 2nd period, one which the Devils have always had trouble in. For most of the period, they were able to keep the Flyers in check until the last minute of the 2nd, when Claude Giroux took a long pass and passed it to James van Riemsdyk, who was able to slip it past Hedberg to cut the lead. However, after that goal, the 'Berg was the Word, and the Flyers couldn't solve him again. While he did get some help from his teammates and the crossbar, he made some huge saves, including a highlight reel save on Jeff Carter. The Devils were able to hold on, and thanks to a cross-checking penalty to Claude Giroux with over 2 minutes left, the Flyers lost the advantage of the extra attacker and the Devils were able to hold on and score an empty netter to seal the victory.
Despite two thirds of the line finishing with a negative corsi, the Patrik Elias-Dainius Zubrus-Brian Rolston line was quite effective early on, and was responsible for the second goal as well as Elias' empty net goal. Most of the team ended up with a negative corsi mainly due to the Flyers attack in the 3rd period, with 12 of the 27 shots by the Flyers coming in the final frame. Most of the Devils had a good game, even Mark Fayne, who has also shown signs of improvement since the coaching change.
While the Devils showed a lot of good signs in the victory, there were still some problems. The power play didn't look too great, and they were unable to get any chances. Ilya Kovalchuk was only able to get one good set up and even that went wide. Jason Arnott, despite playing 17 minutes was pretty much invisible after Tallinder's goal. The line of Ilya Kovalchuk-Travis Zajac and Mattias Tedenby wasn't as electric as I expected, as Kovalchuk was double shifted quite alot, and both Zajac and Tedenby didn't get much ice time this afternoon. And of course, Peter Laviolette putting the Flyers best defensemen out against him at all times.
Also, the Devils received some bad news in the game, as Colin White went down with a mysterious "lower body" injury early in the game. Andy Greene and Henrik Tallinder were able to pick up the slack however, with both of them logging over 25 minutes of ice time. As of now, White's status is unknown for tomorrow both and Gulitti and Chere were unable to get any updates on him.
With this victory in the bag for the Devils, they'll head home tomorrow to face the Florida Panthers on a high note. Not just because they beat the best team in the league (and a hated rival to boot), but they were also able to beat the best team in the league without two young and effective players in Nick Palmieri and Vladimir Zharkov, as well as Colin White's presence on the blue line for most of the game. And not just only should the players be happy, but the fans, because this team's finally playing like many of us had expected at the start of the season.
Thanks for everyone who commented in the gamethread this afternoon. What did you think of the Devils performance tonight? Who did you think did well this afternoon. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, and thank you for reading.