Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils


Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils


NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Bryzgalov watched the entire game unfold from the ice. But like his teammates and undoubtedly their fans, the Flyers’ goaltender didn’t know where things went wrong Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.

“I don’t know,” said an obviously frustrated Bryzgalov. “You’ve got to ask the coach. He makes the statements.”

The Flyers sat back and watched a 3-1 first-period lead turn into an eventual 5-3 loss, bringing their record against Atlantic Division opponents to a dismal 1-4.

And as for the coach’s statement, Peter Laviolette didn’t have much to say other than what was immediately apparent to anyone who watched more than the first 20 minutes of Friday’s affair at the Prudential Center.

“We came out and played a good first period,” Peter Laviolette said. “The second period and the third period were not as strong for us offensively. We made a mistake and it ended up in our net.”

The game actually started off poorly for the Flyers, who gave up a goal to Travis Zajac on the very first Devils shot just 40 seconds after the first puck dropped. But instead of deflating and falling back on their heels after the early deficit, the Flyers responded.

Winger Wayne Simmonds kicked off an impressive first-period rebound with a backhanded shot from the slot on the power play that tied the game at 1. Less than two minutes later, Mike Knuble swept a shot up through a crowd of skaters and past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

Forty-eight seconds after that, Matt Read added to the tally, giving the Flyers the 3-1 lead they simply weren’t able to hold onto. The three goals, scored in just 2:36, are the fastest the Flyers have ever scored against Brodeur – 23 seconds faster than their previous record against the veteran goaltender, set in 2002.

“It seemed like every shift we had that period, we were down there cycling pretty good,” Knuble said. “We had a couple of really good shifts right away.”

But once the second period kicked off, those strong shifts became a thing of the past. The Flyers allowed another early goal 26 seconds into the second period to Alexei Ponikarovsky, playing in his first game since returning to the Devils. Patrik Elias capitalized on an ugly turnover by Kimmo Timonen to tie the game at 3.

“In the first period, we were on the attack offensively,” Laviolette said. “The second and third period, not quite as much. They picked up their game a little bit. They had their chances in the second and the third – and they scored on them.

“That’s pretty much it.”

The Flyers managed to hold the Devils to just 19 shots (compared to their 28), which should have resulted in a better outcome. Bryzgalov played a solid game once again, but turnovers were once again a problem. Too many times, the Flyers missed passes or got just a bit too sloppy with the puck.

And when they did, the Devils were able to capitalize.

“We probably had a few too many turnovers in the neutral zone and they were quality chances that we gave up,” Luke Schenn said. “We kept them to a low shot amount, but a lot of those were too quality chances.”

As rough as the Flyers’ final period felt, they held the Devils to just three shots. David Clarkson’s goal with just about nine minutes left in the game felt like the final blow needed. The Devils added to it, though, with an empty-netter from Steve Bernier with less than two minutes to play.

The Flyers have now lost four of their last five regular-season games against the Devils, and their last six including the postseason. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially after the way Friday’s game looked after the first period.

“Guys were skating hard today,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s a hard rink to play in, but when you got a 3-1 lead, I think you need to find a way to get it done. We’re going to learn from this, obviously.”

The good news? The Flyers won’t have long to dwell on the loss. They’re back at it Saturday evening in Montreal, where they’ll face the Canadiens in less than 24 hours.

“You’ve got to forget about what happened tonight and try to win tomorrow night’s game,” Bryzgalov said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

Best of NHL: Oilers blank Jets to win outdoor Heritage Classic

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Cam Talbot made 31 saves and Mark Letestu scored the first of three second-period goals, lifting the Edmonton Oilers over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday in an outdoor game delayed almost two hours by sunlight melting the ice.

The Heritage Classic victory extended Edmonton's winning streak to three in front of 33,240 at Investors Group Field. Fans wore both Jets and Oilers jerseys to the league's 19th outdoor game.

Zack Kassian had a goal and an assist and Darnell Nurse also scored for Edmonton.

Connor Hellebuyck, who had a tuque attached to his helmet, stopped 29 shots for Winnipeg.

The NHL said the start of the Heritage Classic game was delayed "due to intermittent sunlight on the playing surface" and "in the interest of player safety." (see full recap)

Girardi leads Rangers past Coyotes
NEW YORK -- Dan Girardi scored 1:55 into the third period and New York beat Arizona.

Josh Jooris and J.T. Miller also scored for New York, which has won consecutive games to improve to 4-2-0. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 stops.

Radim Vrbata had both of Arizona's goals, and Louis Domingue made 23 saves. The Coyotes have lost their first four games on a six-game trip since beating Philadelphia in overtime at home to start the season.

Girardi put the Rangers ahead with a slap shot from the right point. The veteran was paired with rookie Brady Skjei in his first game after missing New York's previous three with a strained groin, and Skjei assisted on the goal (see full recap).

Tavares' big night helps Isles defeat Wild
NEW YORK -- John Tavares had two goals and an assist, Johnny Boychuk scored for the second straight game and New York beat Minnesota.

Calvin de Haan, Alan Quine and Thomas Hickey also scored to help New York get its highest scoring total of the year and win for the third time in four home games after opening with two road losses. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for his first win in two starts this season.

Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier had two assists, giving the 19-year-old at least a point in three straight games.

Zach Parise scored twice for Minnesota to top 300 goals for his career, and Nino Niederreiter also scored. Second-string goalie Darcy Kuemper made 27 saves (see full recap).

Ducks hand Canucks 1st regulation loss
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Nick Ritchie scored the tiebreaking goal on a rebound with 8:36 to play, captain Ryan Getzlaf had three assists and Anaheim finally opened its home schedule with a victory over Vancouver.

Andrew Cogliano, Cam Fowler and Corey Perry also scored for the Ducks, who have won two straight after a four-game winless start. John Gibson made 17 saves in the Western Conference's final home opener, thanks to a schedule that forced Anaheim to play in five teams' home debuts this month.

Henrik Sedin scored the tying goal early in the third period for the Canucks, who lost in regulation for the first time this season. Bo Horvat scored a short-handed goal, and Loui Eriksson had two assists (see full recap).

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

Michael Del Zotto, Scott Laughton return to practice

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers welcomed two more players out on to the rink for their practice following Saturday’s 6-3 win over Carolina. 

Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Scott Laughton (lower body) returned to the ice for the first time since suffering injuries within days of each other. Before Sunday’s light practice, Del Zotto and Laughton had skated two consecutive days prior to work on their conditioning. 

“It’s nice to see them back with the group,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. 

Laughton, who injured himself during a training camp practice after losing an edge, was a bit more forward than Del Zotto on when he hopes to return. 

“I would say within the next five to seven days,” Laughton said.

The 22-year-old pointed to Saturday’s game with Pittsburgh as his target to return. 

As for Del Zotto, the defenseman didn’t want to jinx anything, saying it’s a “day-by-day” situation. He would like to think he’s working on the same timetable as Laughton. If that’s the case, he would be back either a few days before or right on cue with the projected four to five weeks he was scheduled to miss after suffering an injury to his left knee in the preseason against the New York Rangers on Oct. 6. 

“It’s kind of trial and error,” Del Zotto said. 

Above all else, though, the two were just happy to be back with their teammates. Del Zotto said that being around everyone really rejuvenated his spirits. 

“Just being back around the guys and having that team chemistry and camaraderie and being able to joke with the guys,” Del Zotto said, “it’s probably been the best thing for me.”

This past month has especially been hard on the two because of the timing and how last season ended for them. 

While there’s never an ideal time to suffer an injury, the pair saw training camp and the approaching start of the regular season in a different light than most of their teammates.

It was supposed to be their new start. Last season, Del Zotto missed the final few months, including the postseason, after ligament damage to his left wrist. He was having a strong preseason, arguably the top defenseman in camp at the time before suffering his setback.

“Being out so long last year and having to sit and watch playoffs than having six months of grueling rehab to get back into it … that made it sting that much more,” Del Zotto said. “That’s part of the game. It’s a contact sport. I signed up for this.”

The same can be said for Laughton, who experienced a scary injury in Game 4 against Washington after being dumped head first into the boards. 

“I was really excited to have camp and start the year here,” Laughton said. 

The two will be traveling to Montreal with the rest of the Flyers for Monday’s contest. They will each do the morning skate with another bag skate afterward.