Image courtesy of RantSports.com
In their final game before a six-game stretch that will test the skill of this team, the Philadelphia Flyers suffered a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center tonight. New Jersey received goals from Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr in the win, while Martin Brodeur managed to stop 30 shots.
The game-winning goal came halfway through the final period off the stick of a former Flyer, but that wasn't the story of the game. The moment everybody will take away from this contest is the questionable call in the final two minutes of regulation, where it looked as though the Orange and Black tied the game.
A scrum along the boards at the point to Brodeur's right resulted in a cross-ice pass to Jakub Voracek, who walked in from the top of the circle to Brodeur's left and let go of a shot. It looked as though Brodeur had the puck covered momentarily until Scott Hartnell made contact with the netminder to knock the puck loose and over the goal line. The natural call is to waive off the goal, but it looked as though Anton Volchenkov may have pushed Hartnell into the net, which should have then resulted in a goal for the Flyers. The call was a faceoff without a penalty or a goal.
Looking at the play, you have to figure the Flyers wouldn't get the benefit of the call since it was Hartnell, who has a reputation as a weak skater and an instigator, and it looked as though he made heavy contact with the goaltender. With that said, the fact a penalty wasn't called on Hartnell for goaltender interference, you have to figure the refs were split on the call, which is pretty amateur with crucial playoff points on the line.
Goal or no goal on the play, the Flyers had several opportunities to produce goals throughout the affair, as they had six power plays in the loss, but failed to convert on a single man advantage. Not only that, they played a team's backup goaltender in a game they knew they needed to win.
One positive from the loss has to be the Flyers will come out with a chip on their shoulder on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they will feel as though they were cheated out of at least one, if not two, points in the standings.
Aside from the questionable call late, the story of the game surrounded the question of whether or not this would be the last time Brodeur faced the Flyers in his career. In what looks to be his final season in the NHL, this was the last time Brodeur's Devils face the Orange and Black this year. If it is indeed the last time New Jersey's iconic netminder faces Philly, he went out with yet another win against the Flyers.
As for the game-winning goal, a sequence of strong cycling from the Devils was capped off with a tally from Jagr, who had his shot squeak through Mason to make it 2-1 in favor of the visitors with just 12:18 left in regulation.
Despite some solid scoring chances from the Orange and Black after Jagr's goal, the Devils held on for the one-goal victory on the road.
The first period found the Flyers hemmed into their own zone often, as they exited the frame down by a goal and trailing in the shot count 13-6. The period's lone goal came from Zajac off a feed from Jagr.
After he received a short pass from Tuomo Ruutu at the top of the circle to Mason's right, Jagr quickly fed a pass to Zajac at the bottom of the same circle. Although Brayden Schenn got a stick on the pass attempt, Zajac still corralled the puck at the bottom of the circle and skated across the slot in an attempt to drop Mason to the ice. The Flyers' netminder eventually lowered to the ice to give space for Zajac to put one into the upper portion of the net for his 12th of the season 7:56 into the tilt.
The rest of the first period was painful for the Flyers, as the Devils dictated play and cycled heavily in the Orange and Black's defensive zone for the majority of the first period. Despite the large amount of time in Philly's zone, New Jersey didn't produce a large amount of legitimate scoring chances, as they entered the middle frame with a lot of momentum.
Philadelphia responded in the middle stanza with an unusual goal from an unlikely source within the period's opening minute.
On an offensive zone faceoff, Grossmann launched a shot from the blue line that found its way through Brodeur's legs to tie the game. Grossmann's first of the season came 47 seconds into the second period.
The Orange and Black then proceeded to gain a 12-7 shot advantage in the period, as well as a pair of power-play chances thanks to Steve Downie's ability to draw both infractions. Unfortunately for the team, it didn't lead to a second goal within the period, as the teams headed into the final stanza tied at one.
The Flyers have a few days off before they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday and visit the Pens on Sunday.
NOTES: Tonight was Hartnell's 500th game as a Flyer. He was plus-1 with four shots on goal and four hits in 23:36 TOI. He has 152 goals and 162 assists with Philly...With the primary assist on Grossmann's goal tonight, Voracek extended his point streak to four games. He has three goals and five assists...Grossmann ended his 75-game goal drought with his tally tonight...Tonight's loss was the first time the Flyers scored under three goals in a game since the NHL returned to action from the Olympic break. It was the first time they were held to one goal in a game since their 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on January 25th...Mason snapped a three-game streak where he allowed at least four goals against. His last game with three goals against or less was the Flyers' 4-2 win against the New York Rangers on March 1st...Zac Rinaldo is day-to-day with an upper-body injury...Chris VandeVelde saw 3:53 TOI in his first game since January 28th...Adam Henrique's six-game goal streak was snapped tonight...Jagr had a goal, an assist, two PIMs, and a plus-2 rating in 17:35 TOI. Dainius Zubrus had a shot on goal in 13:18 TOI...The Flyers dropped to 2-2-0 against the Devils this season, as well as 12-9-3 against the Metropolitan Division and to 21-16-5 against the Eastern Conference...The Flyers are now 33-25-7 this season. They were 37-21-7 after 65 games in 2011-2012...If the playoffs started today, the Flyers would be on the road to start a series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.