The Mcleod line started the game for the New Jersey Devils, with the Butcher-Carrick pairing behind them. The Devils quickly got the puck into the offensive zone, but changed after the Flyers cleared to center. After the change, Sharangovich picked up a pass from Kuokkanen and went from the far-end blueline into the offensive zone, ripping a shot that went high. Jesper Bratt later froze play wth a long wrist shot.
There were very few stoppages early, and very limited space for shooting. The Hughes line still made trouble with their skating, though, forcing Wade Allison to take a hook on Janne Kuokkanen after Jack Hughes dipped around an oncoming Flyer and made a short pass to Kuokkanen as they entered the offensive zone. The Devils went to the power play just six minutes and 40 seconds into the game.
Smith had a shot blocked early by Sean Couturier, but Smith regained the puck and chipped it further in. Pavel Zacha later had his pass from the goal line to Jack Hughes sent out of the zone by Couturier. Pavel Zacha got the first shot on goal with 49 seconds remaining in the power play, and the wrist shot went into Alex Lyon’s glove. The second unit then came on, and Yegor Sharangovich scored his first power play goal of the season as his shot went right through Lyon’s arm. 1-0, Devils. Will Butcher and Damon Severson picked up the assists on the play.
After Miles Wood forced the puck into the offensive zone with his speed, Justin Braun forced him into the corner, resulting in the Devils playing it back to the blueline. Damon Severson slap passed the puck to Michael McLeod, who had trouble handling it. McLeod lost the puck, was knocked down a few feet away from it, and then the Flyers cleared the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Scott Laughton went to the box, as he tipped the puck from the air over the glass.
On the power play, Pavel Zacha played it across the net to Hughes, who couldn’t handle it. The Devils continued to cycle, and Nico Hischier got the puck in the slot, shooting the rebound of a blocked Smith shot after kicking the puck to his stick. Lyon covered with 1:21 to play in the power play. A Jesper Bratt one-timer was redirected right into Lyon with 43 seconds to play. Jack Hughes took the last attempt of the power play with 15 seconds left, but it was blocked and cleared. The Devils had great puck movement, but Pavel Zacha should have turned from the goal line and shot rather than passed on one of his attempts across to Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes.
Jack Hughes flew through all three zones with just over six minutes to play, and as he reached the net he tried to pass across to Janne Kuokkanen despite leaving a Flyers defenseman in the dust. The pass missed, but Hughes drew a slashing call, and the Devils went back to the power play with 5:56 to play in the period. Philippe Myers went to the box.
The Devils had a rough time entering the zone after an early clear, as the drop pass was working to its normal futility on the first attempt. Pavel Zacha and Nico Hischier stole the puck from Travis Sanheim in the corner, working it slowly out to Jesper Bratt, who blasted on Alex Lyon. Lyon made the stop. With the second unit on, Damon Severson cut through the right faceoff circle off a feed from Janne Kuokkanen. Severson centered it for Sharangovich, who pulled the puck to his backhand and had an empty net to make it a 2-0 game for the Devils.
The rest of the period wound down without much to note. Claude Giroux just missed the net with a shot from the slot with a few minutes left, but there were not any other chances to note. The Devils went into intermission up two, while the team was outshooting the Flyers nine to three.
The Flyers were much more successful at getting shots on goal early in the period, as Blackwood had to make a couple saves in the first two minutes. They weren’t too hard for him, though.
Nolan patrick forced Mackenzie Blackwood to make a glove save on a slap shot a bit over four minutes into the period, and Michael McLeod had to clear the rebound away. Blackwood then caught the next shot from the point. After the whistle, Travis Konecny punched Connor Carrick in the face, and then Carrick punched back, but no penalties were called.
Connor Carrick and Joel Farabee dropped the gloves in the neutral zone almost six minutes into the period, as Farabee tangled up with Carrick right in front of the Flyers’ bench. Both were called for fighting.
Right after the fight, the Flyers took another penalty, as Yegor Shrangovich was clipped with a low hit in the neutral zone. The official call was tripping.
The first unit started for the Devils, and the linesman took three tries to successfully drop the puck. The Flyers cleared off the third drop, and Ty Smith moved it well through the neutral zone before the Devils turned it over in the offensive zone. Sean Couturier had a pass go just ahead of him - or else he would have had a breakaway. After the Devils re-entered, Ty Smith turned the puck over at the blueline to Scott Laughton. Laughton made Blackwood go down, and he had plenty of net to make it a 2-1 game.
Back at even strength after an atrocious power play, Jesper Boqvist rang a shot off the crossbar from the high slot. The Flyers cleared, but Kevin Bahl knocked it down with his glove, shuffling the puck to Mikahil Maltsev from the boards. He played it ahead to Nick Merkley, who passed across to Jesper Boqvist, whose one-timer beat Alex Lyon cleanly to make it a 3-1 game on a far-side shot.
Tic-Tac-Bo— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 30, 2021
: Maltsev pic.twitter.com/UAZtNyDvcj
Kevin Bahl showed off his board play against Scott Laughton past the halfway mark in the period, shielding the puck with great efficacy and allowing the Devils to move up ice. Nico Hischier shielded off a Flyer to create a chance for Pavel Zacha, whose shot bounded out to Jesper Bratt, who had an excellent chance on the turnaround, but Lyon made a glove save way out of the net.
With under eight minutes to play, a pass from Justin Braun high in the Flyers’ offensive zone was redirected by Sean Couturier at the side of Blackwood’s net to make it a 3-2 game. This was another bad showing by the Devils’ defense.
The Devils took a penalty for too many men on the ice with 1:43 left in the period. As the Maltsev line was changing off, the Devils had six men on the ice as they handled the puck. Nick Merkley served the bench minor.
McLeod, Bastian, Murray, and Severson started the penalty kill. The Flyers won the draw, and the Devils cleared the puck 25 seconds in as McLeod intercepted a pass from Claude Giroux. Kevin Bahl got some time on the second unit, and Yegor Sharangovich got a clear from high in the defensive zone. The Flyers finally got a shot with seven seconds left in the period, and Blackwood saved it. Another attempt from the point went wide. The Devils would have 17 more seconds to kill in the third, up 3-2. The Devils only had five shots in the period, and led in shots on the game 14-13.
The Devils won the draw and forced the Flyers to collect in their defensive zone. Ivan Provorov took a shot as Merkley exited the box, and Blackwood covered the puck - one for one on the penalty kill.
The Devils had trouble getting possession of the puck early in the period, mostly playing defense. Blackwood had to make multiple saves in the first five or six minutes, as the Flyers fired away at the goal. The Devils had a 1.7 xGF% (0.01-0.35) through the first six and a half minutes of the period, per Natural Stat Trick.
The Devils finally had a chance to get an odd-man rush nearly eight minutes into the period, but the Hischier line was at the end of their shift. Kuokkanen and Yegor Sharangovich hopped on, and Yegor took another wicked wrister from the faceoff dot, but Lyon just got it with the glove.
The Flyers had a partial two-on-one with Connor Carrick defending with a bit over nine minutes to play. Carrick did a great job going across the ice to the farside to intercept a pass from Travis Konecny with his skates. Otherwise, Blackwood might have not had a chance on Jakub Voracek if the pass ended up on target.
With a bit over eight minutes to play, Scott Laughton was chased from the dot, and Michael McLeod won a draw. The Devils nearly played it into the offensive zone, but Kevin Bahl and Mikahil Maltsev had to fight Van Riemsdyk and Konecny in the corner. The Flyers worked it out for a point shot that went way wide. Kevin Bahl collected a bad pass following the shot, and dumped in for the Devils after skating up ice. The Hischier line came on, and Carrick’s pass went just past Bratt, causing an icing.
Hischier lost the draw, and the Devils averted danger on a centering pass from behind the net. The Devils worked it up ice, and Pavel Zacha shielded the puck into the offensive zone off a feed from Will Butcher. Zacha faked pass to Hischier, and roofed a wrist shot past Lyon to make it a 4-2 game. Jesper Bratt was awarded a secondary assist.
That’s what we’re talkin’ bout.— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 30, 2021
: Bratt pic.twitter.com/MdChzCTzpZ
The Flyers pulled Alex Lyon with 4:24 to play. Pavel Zacha lost the draw, and then re-collected along the boards and cleared with a high flip of the puck. Jesper Bratt raced up the ice, negating the icing and just about sealing the win at 5-2 on the empty net goal with nearly four minutes to play.
Ty Smith took a penalty for slashing with 2:33 to play. Alex Lyon stayed in net. Nico Hischier and Yegor Sharangovich had a two-on-one early on. Hischier gave it to Sharangovich, who rang a shot off the post. Coming back the other way, Travis Konecny beat Blackwood below the blocker. 5-3.
With 1:49 to play, Alain Vigneault called timeout. The Flyers pulled Lyon, and play was stuck on the boards for awhile in the Devils’ defensive zone. The Flyers failed to get a shot on goal for awhile, as the Devils forced them to pass around the boards. Miles Wood pushed the puck into the Devils’ offensive zone, and the Flyers never got back out. The Devils won 5-3.
The Opposition Opinion: Over at Broad Street Hockey, Madeline Campbell has the recap.
Yegor, Rising From The Rubble
If you read Gerard’s article this morning, you might have been wondering how Sharangovich would perform down the stretch this year. As Gerard noted:
Once he settled in with Zajac/Kuokkanen (and now with Jack Hughes as his center), Yegor has taken off with his remaining 21 points having come in his 33 most recent appearances.
Something remarkable about Yegor Sharangovich’s performance up until tonight has been his lack of power play points. He had 11 goals on 95 even strength shots (11.5%) and one goal on six shorthanded shots (16.6%). However, he only had one shot on goal on the power play coming into tonight’s game.
With his two goals tonight, Sharangovich is up to 14 on the season. His shot percentage has improved to 13.2% on the year. But Sharangovich has been hotter lately than most might realize. He will finish with 14 points in 16 games during April with a shooting percentage of 17.5%. In the midst of one of the Devils’ worst stretches ever, Yegor Sharangovich has shown himself to be capable of scoring at a top six level - and he probably could have had three or four goals tonight with how close he was to scoring in the third period.
Big Debut For Bahl
He’s not ready, they said. Size is overrated, they said. Okhotiuk has been better in the AHL, they said. Well, Kevin Bahl threw these concerns in the trash bin tonight. he was not sheltered, with a 50% offensive zone start percentage. He played 14:25 at even strength and 0:34 on the penalty kill. His 76.90 xGF% at five-on-five led the team by far, as Pavel Zacha was second with 63.34%. In 3:04 against Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux, Bahl had a 77.78 CF%, knocked down a clearing attempt and helped create Boqvist’s goal, and had a 79.36 xGF%. Bahl was consistent tonight, no matter his competition. He threw hits, was a pain on the boards, and applied solid pressure with his skating ability and reach.
If you’re not loving that...I don’t know what to tell you.
He also earned some praise from Lindy Ruff (amongst several other questions).
How many people were ready to write off Jesper Boqvist during this season? Well, tonight, Boqvist continued to remind everyone the skill he possesses. Right after ripping a shot off the crossbar, he zipped a one-timer goal. Boqvist was one of five Devils to get three scoring chances today, and just one of two to get three or more at even strength. The line needs some work, but I am a fan of Boqvist’s skill. He now has six points in 22 games this year, improved from four goals in 35 games last season. All of his six points have come in his last 15 appearances, in which he’s averaged under 10 minutes of ice time per game. Given the performances of those higher in the lineup, I’m not eager to artificially inflate his ice time - but I think Boqvist might deserve some power play time to end the season.
Zacha’s Career High
Pavel Zacha previously set a career high of 13 goals in 61 games during the 2018-19 season. That season, he took 99 shots for a 13.1 shot percentage, at a measly 1.62 shots per game. Last season, Zacha set a career high of 32 points in 65 games, as his goal scoring worsened. This year, Zacha has been a much more balanced offensive player, and it showed tonight. His goal matched his career high of 13 in just his 44th game of the season. For reference, that’s a 56 point-pace per 82 games.
His assist brought him up to 30 points for just the second time in his career, with six games to match and improve his career high in points. I expect him to do so. His two points brought him up to 11 points in 11 games in the month of April - his second month this season (with February) where he scored at least a point per game. Additionally, Zacha has four goals and two assists in six games against the Flyers this season.
He deserves it. Tonight, Zacha had two takeaways and an individual expected goals of 0.28 in all situations on four scoring chances - all of which came at even strength. His 0.25 iXG at five-on-five led the team. Of course, he was on the ice for a shorthanded goal against - but that goal was the result of a lineman-induced turnover from Ty Smith. Zacha had a great game tonight at even strength, though - and his was the game-winning goal. That said...
A little treat for the drive home to Philly. pic.twitter.com/XbIQrQsae6— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 30, 2021
What did you think of tonight’s game? Did you enjoy it? Do you think the Devils can win three in a row? What did you think of Kevin Bahl? What do you make of Yegor and Zacha’s recent performances? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.