Instant Replay: Devils 6, Flyers 2

Instant Replay: Devils 6, Flyers 2

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. -- Once again for the Flyers, another brutal deal with the Devils.

With their playoff hopes already on life support, the Flyers inexcusably lost to New Jersey on Thursday night at the Prudential Center, 6-2.

The Devils came in freefalling, having lost 10 straight games. But, somehow, the unpredictable Flyers have now lost all three meetings so far with New Jersey this season, being outscored 14-3 in the process.

And salt in the Flyers' wound: Steve Mason was forced out of action with a third-period injury on a breakaway goal against (see story).

With 12 regular-season games left, the Flyers (32-30-8), at 72 points, are six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. The Maple Leafs (78 points) on Thursday blew out the Lightning (77), leapfrogging them and the Islanders (77), who lost to the Jets.

The loss comes a day after the Flyers blanked the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins, 4-0, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Meanwhile, the banged-up Devils (26-31-12) halted their dreadful slide.

Both teams meet twice more: April 1 in Philadelphia and April 4 in Newark.

Notable goals
Once the Flyers snared a 1-0 advantage, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi all scored for New Jersey to emphatically flip the game.

Palmieri pounced on a puck right off a faceoff and laced a shot past Mason with 1:49 left in the opening period.

The Devils took a 2-1 lead 5:50 into the second frame when Ivan Provorov turned over the puck and Henrique capitalized on a snap shot.

The wheels started falling off when Blandisi deflected a bouncing shot right at Mason's doorstep for a 3-1 advantage.

The Flyers got on the board with three minutes remaining in the first period off some nice puck movement. Claude Giroux made a beautiful move into the circle and backhanded a pass to Jakub Voracek, who hit a streaking Michael Del Zotto for an easy 1-0 advantage.

Del Zotto also tallied an assist, giving him a pair of two-point efforts over his last six games.

After the Devils countered with three goals in succession, Brayden Schenn got one back for the Flyers about midway through the second stanza.

Taylor Hall and Henrique iced the game with third-period markers as things quickly went south for the Flyers. Hall added an empty-netter for good measure near the end of regulation.

Goalie report
Just like the Flyers this season, Mason has not been able to solve New Jersey throughout his career.

It got worse Thursday and ended with injury.

Oddly, the Devils are the only team Mason has never beaten. He entered 0-8-0 with a 3.77 goals-against average and .854 save percentage in 10 lifetime matchups with New Jersey.

Mason did not look particularly quick or sharp prior to exiting. He finished with 19 saves.

Devils backup goalie Keith Kinkaid made 16 stops.

Power play
To the Flyers' credit, they created some decent looks on the power play.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Schenn had juicy looks in front during the second period but Kinkaid turned them away.

The Flyers went 0 for 3 and are now 3 for 33 in March.

New Jersey went 1 for 3.

Penalty kill
The Flyers allowed a costly goal to Blandisi and killed 2 of 3.

The Devils were perfect.

Fights
The last time the Flyers visited the Prudential Center, an all-out fiasco unfolded.

On Thursday, there was a scrum at the final buzzer as the Flyers' frustrations boiled over.

Scratches
For the Flyers: Forwards Nick Cousins (upper body) and Roman Lyubimov (healthy), and defenseman Brandon Manning (upper body).

Jordan Weal returned to the lineup (see story).

For the Devils: Forwards Michael Cammalleri (upper body), Jacob Josefson (upper body), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body) and Blake Coleman (healthy), and defenseman Steven Santini (healthy).

Next up
The Flyers head home to face the Hurricanes on Sunday for a 7 p.m. puck drop. Then it's back to the road for a four-game trip that includes the Jets, Wild, Blue Jackets and Penguins.

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.