No Brotherly Love (Devils in These Details; 02.01.18)

Robert Cole/ALOST


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


NEWARK, NJ — It took almost three weeks for the New Jersey Devils to finally get a measure of revenge against the Philadelphia Flyers – and almost the full 60 minutes of their latest grudge match to finally clinch that feeling of victory.

Nico Hischier deflected a Blake Coleman centering pass into the net with 87 seconds remaining in the third period to lift the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Flyers, New Jersey’s first win over Philadelphia this season after losing the first two meetings between the teams, both occurring last month. The win for New Jersey was made even more impressive by the fact that they came back from a 3-2 deficit, scoring the game’s two third-period goals to seal it.

“It’s a good character win, and we showed a lot of heart and trust in each other to get the job done,” said Devils right winger Kyle Palmieri, who scored the game’s first goal just 3:42 into the game. “It’s good to get rewarded for that.”

The revenge factor added another layer of intensity to an already acrimonious feeling these Metropolitan Division rivals have for one another, and both teams combined for 36 penalty minutes in the first period. Included in those infractions were two separate fights just 2:01 apart, as the Flyers’ Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas and the Devils’ Damon Severson and Travis Zajac each dropped the gloves.

Both teams took advantage of the plentiful power play time each had in the first period, with all four goals in the frame coming on the man advantage. After Palmieri’s goal, the Flyers tied the score at the 6:47 mark on a Claude Giroux tally. New Jersey then retook the lead at 13:49, as Drew Stafford redirected a left point shot from defenseman John Moore past Flyers goalkeeper Alex Lyon, who was making his first career NHL start.

Just 1:57 after Stafford’s goal, and just moments after Zajac picked up a roughing call to go along with his five-minute fighting major to give the Flyers a power play, Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds scored off of a rebound past Devils goalkeeper Keith Kinkaid to tie the game late in the first period.

The Flyers took the lead for the only time in the game when they scored the only goal of the second period, as defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere pinched forward and scored after a centering pass attempt by teammate Valtteri Filppula went off of Severson’s skate before finding Gostisbehere’s stick.

Philadelphia did not make the lead hold up, however, as Severson was able to tie the game with nine minutes remaining in the game by one-timing a shot from a pass by center Pavel Zacha past Lyon. Just before the pass, Palmeri was able to win a long battle for the puck in the corner with two Flyers players before Zacha gained possession of the puck behind the net and, eventually, found Severson in the slot.

Right before the end of regulation, the Devils snatched the two points when Hischier, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, was able to beat defenseman Robert Hagg to Coleman’s centering pass toward the front of the net to deflect the pass through the legs of Lyon for the game-winner.

“I’m not surprised by anything [Hischier] does anymore,” said Devils head coach John Hynes. “What you have is a big-time player scoring a big-time goal for us at a key time, and that’s why we drafted him where we did, because he’s that type of player. He drove hard through the middle, gets into the hard area of the ice and finds a way to tip the goal in, and that’s what this time of year is about.”

Lyon, who was promoted from the Flyers’ AHL affiliate after No. 1 goalkeeper Brian Elliott was put on injured reserve with a lower body injury on Tuesday, made 18 saves in his first career start.

“[Lyon] played a solid game,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. “He gave us some real good saves at different times in the hockey game.”

After the 12 penalties that were called in the first period, only one was committed in the final two periods combined, a Travis Konecny trip of Devils defenseman Andy Greene. The game did clean up, but the tone was already set during those rough-and-tumble first 20 minutes.

“I think if you watched how both teams competed, the emotions out there, it was tight checking and there wasn’t a lot of time and space out there,” Hynes said. “It was a playoff-type game, and I thought both teams played real hard. Fortunately, we found a way to win it.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline and story is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s game, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 12 pictures in total.

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