Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

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Flyers-Devils: What you need to know

Flyers at Devils – 7 p.m., CSN
Prudential Center, Newark

The Flyers will continue their six-game road trip when they take on the New Jersey Devils Friday night in the second of five meetings between these two Atlantic Division rivals this season.

Despite losing All-Star winger Zach Parise to free agency this past offseason, the Devils have gotten off to a very strong start to this lockout-shortened season. They currently sit atop the Eastern Conference with 19 points through 13 games.

Both teams should be fresh heading into Friday’s contest, as each club had a rare two-day break in between games.

Records
Flyers: 6-7-1 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)

Devils: 8-2-3 (First in Atlantic Division, First in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
In the first matchup between these two teams this season, veteran netminder Martin Brodeur made 24 saves to record his 10th all-time shutout against the Flyers in New Jersey’s 3-0 victory on Jan. 22 in Newark. Travis Zajac and David Clarkson each scored first-period markers for the Devils. Sniper Ilya Kovalchuk beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a nice deke on a penalty shot -- while shorthanded -- in the second to put the game away.

Previous games
The Flyers’ line of Tye McGinn, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek led the way in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. McGinn and Schenn each scored tip-in goals that were assisted by Voracek. Bryzgalov was strong in net, making 24 saves for his sixth victory of the season.

New Jersey had its five-game winning streak snapped after suffering a 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Kovalchuk and Ryan Carter both recorded tallies for the Devils, who lost in regulation for the first time at home this season.

Who's hot
The chemistry building between Voracek and Schenn has greatly benefited a Flyers team that has struggled offensively most of the season. Voracek has two goals and six assists in his last eight games and is now leading the Flyers in scoring with 10 points. Schenn has four points in his last three contests and is second on the team with nine points.

McGinn has been a pleasant surprise for the Flyers. The 22-year-old rookie has provided a ton of energy in his 11 games this season. He has three goals, two assists and two decisive fight wins that have given the Flyers a lot to look forward to this year.

Long-time Devil Patrik Elias has one goal and eight points in his past five games and is tied with Clarkson for the team-lead in points this season with 15.

Clarkson, who is one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, has nine goals in 13 games and has continued to play with a strong physical presence.

Who's not
Although he registered an assist on Kimmo Timonen’s power-play goal on Tuesday, Claude Giroux hasn’t been the offensive force he was in 2011-12. Giroux has three goals and five assists in 14 games. Last season, he amassed 93 points in just 77 games.

Keep an eye on ...
Sean Couturier, who has missed the past two games with a stomach virus, returned to the ice on Thursday. Couturier centered Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo during practice and is questionable to play against the Devils.

The Devils reacquired veteran forward Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Jets on Wednesday in exchange for two draft picks. Ponikarovsky played 33 regular-season games for New Jersey in 2011-12, recording seven goals and 11 assists. The 32-year-old signed with Winnipeg this offseason after posting one goal and nine points to help the Devils reach the Stanley Cup Final.

Did you know?
In eight games away from the Wells Fargo Center this season, the Flyers have mustered only 18 goals -- with seven alone coming in their win over the Florida Panthers on Jan. 26.

Injuries
Flyers: Scott Hartnell is still recovering from surgery to repair his broken left foot. He could begin skating this weekend.

Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) rejoined the Flyers for practice on Thursday wearing the “no contact” yellow jersey. He is expected to miss at least another two weeks.

Jody Shelley (hip) and Michael Leighton (upper-body) are on injured reserve.

Devils: Former Flyer Dainius Zubrus was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and is expected to miss 2-8 weeks after undergoing exploratory surgery on his left wrist on Thursday.

Matthew Corrente (shoulder surgery) is out for the season.

Sound off
Do you think New Jersey will win the Atlantic?

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Ten observations from the Flyers' 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night, their seventh straight win and longest win streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011 (see Instant Replay).

1. And the Flyers (somehow) did it. They won their seventh straight game on a night Steve Mason wasn't his best — five goals allowed for the third time this season — and the team defense was largely atrocious. Michael Raffl scored a beautiful goal for the game-winner at 18:31 of the third period and the Flyers held on. This game had a 1980s feel to it. Lots of scoring. Highly entertaining. And the Flyers found a way to win it. This team is on a roll.

2. From the Flyers' perspective, the most entertaining moment of the opening 20 minutes came with 5:31 left in the first period, when Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning and Oilers center Connor McDavid exchanged words post-whistle in the Philadelphia zone.

Manning broke McDavid's collarbone last season, which forced McDavid to miss a chunk of his rookie season. Nothing more than a little pushing and shoving with some trash talk.

Still, the sequence brought the most excitement in the first period. Speaking of which …

3. For a team that entered on a six-game winning streak, the Flyers' first-period effort was disheartening. They needed more than nine minutes to get their first shot on goal, and had more shots in the final two minutes — five — than they did the first 18 minutes.

No real scoring chances, either, out of the nine first-period shots. Raffl had a nice chance, but Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson was able to make the stop.

That's two straight games the Flyers have had poor first periods. Tuesday, they were tied, 1-1, with the Panthers, but faced a 1-0 deficit Thursday. Better first periods are needed.

4. Boy, the Flyers woke up quick after the 10-minute mark of the second period.

Down 2-0, the Flyers scored three goals in one minute and 12 seconds in the second period — 12:31, 13:24 and 13:43 — to get the Wells Fargo Center jumping.

Mark Streit started it off with a power-play goal, followed by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and then Claude Giroux. Bellamare beat Gustavsson with a well-placed wrist shot, which may have been the fourth-liner's best shot of his NHL career, for his first of the year.

Giroux's diving slapper gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead 19 seconds later. The loudest the building may have been this season. It had a playoff atmosphere after Giroux's goal.

5. Let's talk about McDavid. We hear about how fast he is, how skilled he is, how special he is, and he is every bit as advertised. You see it more when you see him in person.

McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season at 4:35 of the second period, his 12th goal of the campaign. He rocketed home a one-timer from Leon Draisaitl off a rebound.

The 19-year-old kid leads the NHL in scoring and just scored his first PPG. The kid is special. Very special. Side note, McDavid chirped Manning after his PPG.

6. And, of course, McDavid was a factor in another Oilers goal. After the Flyers took momentum with their three goals in just over a minute, McDavid took it right back.

While the Oilers were shorthanded, McDavid was double-teamed in the corner left of Mason by Andrew MacDonald and Bellamare, but he was able to shovel the puck to Mark Letestu, who then found Andrej Sekera for a blast by Mason to make it 3-3 at 16:15 of the second period.

The credit for that goal goes all to McDavid. Tremendous strength by a 19-year-old who was being pinned against the boards by a 30-year-old and 31-year-old, respectively.

Sekera's goal was the seventh shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers — most in the NHL.

7. I was skeptical of using the Bellemare line against McDavid, but at 5-on-5, Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov did a decent job against McDavid. Still, the Oilers' captain finished with a goal and assist. The Flyers held McDavid without a breakaway.

The Bellemare line did a tremendous job at 5-on-5.

8. The fans grew restless with the referees in the third period. First, Brayden Schenn put a loose puck into the net, but Gustavsson had covered it and the whistle had blown quickly. And then, McDavid tackled Ivan Provorov on a break. Should have been a penalty.

9. We hear about McDavid all the time, but Edmonton has another young star in Draisaitl, who found himself off the McDavid line against the Flyers.

No problem for the 2014 No. 3 overall pick. Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and displayed an uncanny ability to find open players and get them the puck.

In a game featuring McDavid, it was Draisaitl who stole the show. Wow.

10. It was Goaltender Heritage Night at the Wells Fargo Center, but there were no special ceremonies. The honorees, voted by the fans, were Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindberg, Pete Peeters and Brian Boucher. Outside of some interviews during stoppages and a cool, little presentation during introductions, there was nothing to write home about. There was an uptick in goalie jerseys in the crowd.

Personal favorite? A Brian Boucher No. 1 Philadelphia Phantoms sweater.

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Oilers 5

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Oilers 5

BOX SCORE

It wasn’t so much about Connor McDavid on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center as it was that the last goal wins.

And it wasn't McDavid who scored last, either. 

The Flyers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. 

Michael Raffl's brilliant move off the boards broke a 5-5 tie with 1:29 left in regulation. The Flyers scored three times in both the second and third periods.
 
Trailing, 2-0, in the second period, the Flyers ripped off three goals in 1:12 to take a shocking 3-2 lead on the Oilers.
 
They then got a power play, but McDavid negated it with a brilliant play to set up the tying goal going into the third period.
 
The Flyers trailed by two early in that stanza, but tied it 5-5 on goals from Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux. 

Road kill
Edmonton came into the game with the best road record in the NHL: 8-4-3. These guys aren’t road kill for the home team by any stretch. In case you’re wondering, the Islanders have the worst road record: 2-6-1.
 
Notable goals
How about McDavid kicking the puck to teammate Mark Letestu after being tied up on the boards by Andrew MacDonald and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for a goal that tied the game a 3-3 minutes after Flyers scored their three?
 
Goalie report
Leon Draisaitl’s goal in the opening five minutes was Mr. Softie material on Steve Mason. Not much he could do on some others in this one. The same could be said for the Oilers’ Jonas Gustavsson.
 
Power play
Voracek had the lone goal on the PP in the third period. Mark Streit’s goal that ignited three straight in the second period came after a power play had ended. However, the Flyers also gave up another shorthanded goal.
 
Shorthanded goal
Andrej Sekera’s shortie late in the second period made it 3-3. The Flyers have given up a league-high seven shorthanded goals.
 
Penalty kill
McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season in the second period to make it a 2-0 game on a one-timer from the circle. Hard to believe, Harry, that the league’s stop scorer didn’t have a power-play goal until now. Oscar Klefbom had a PPG in the third period that gave the Oilers a 5-3 lead.
 
No goal
The Flyers thought they scored with 11:54 left in third. They were trailing, 5-4, but the whistle and play had been blown dead several seconds prior.
 
Fights
McDavid and Brandon Manning mixed it up a bit in the first period but no fight.
 
Scratches
Defensemen Nick Schultz (healthy) and Michael Del Zotto (illness), forwards Boyd Gordon (healthy), Sean Couturier (left knee) and Matt Read (oblique pull), goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee). 
 
Up next
The Flyers practice at Skate Zone on Friday at 11 a.m. They host the Dallas Stars at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.