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.
Flyers: 6-7-1 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
Devils: 8-2-3 (First in Atlantic Division, First in Eastern Conference)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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