As coach John Tortorella has said repeatedly in the past, hockey is a game of mistakes.
Despite the Flyers’ overall dominance of the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center, outshooting them 24-12 through two periods, the Flyers struggled to overcome a third-period blunder that lifted the Devils to a 3-2 victory.
Just two minutes into the final frame with the game tied 1-1, goalie Carter Hart and defenseman Nick Seeler misplayed the puck behind the net. Devils center Dawson Mercer capitalized on the error and scored to put the visitors up, 2-1.
The Flyers needed to respond, but the Devils beat them to the punch. Five minutes after Mercer’s goal, the Flyers gave Devils’ center Jack Hughes time and space to carry the puck to the net out of the corner. His backhander went off of Hart’s mask, but Hughes collected his own rebound and jammed the puck past Hart.
Despite going down 3-1, the Flyers never gave in. Center Lukáš Sedlák cut the Devils’ lead to one point when he scored from a distance as winger Zack MacEwen screened Devils goalie Akira Schmid. However, their efforts weren’t enough.
Speak of the Devils
While the Flyers were the better team through the first 40 minutes of the game, the Devils did their best to disrupt them. They were successful six minutes into the second period when defenseman Ivan Provorov lost the puck below the goal line thanks to the efforts of a forechecking Devils winger Miles Wood. Center Michael McLeod collected the puck and slid it back along the boards to Wood, who found winger Fabian Zetterlund as he crashed the net for a tap-in goal past Hart to put the Devils up, 1-0.
But overall through the first two periods, the Flyers’ mistakes were minimal. It wasn’t until the third period when Mercer’s goal spelled trouble, and the Flyers couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole created by Huges’ tally.
After Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tortorella lamented the Flyers’ lack of structure, which initially showed improvement against the Islanders on Nov. 26 and 29. The Flyers couldn’t afford to give the red-hot Devils too much time and space in the offensive zone.
They came out to a strong start against their divisional foe in the first period. The Flyers checked decisively and limited the Devils’ offense through the first 20 minutes, holding them to just four shots on goal. Players used their physicality to kill plays in the defensive zone and get back on the attack, registering 12 shots on goal in the first. That trend carried over into the second period, as the Devils managed just seven even-strength shots.
Konecny adds a spark
Over their last seven games, the Flyers’ power play has been an abject disaster, going 0 for 19. But the Flyers were missing one key players in six of those seven games — winger Travis Konecny, who was sidelined due to a right hand injury for the last two weeks. In his second game back, Konecny provided a much-needed boost to the Flyers’ floundering power play on the heels of a Devils goal.
From the right face-off circle, winger Kevin Hayes held the puck before passing it down low to center Noah Cates at the side of the net. He teed up Konecny, who was parked in the low slot and tapped the puck past Devils goalie Akira Schmid to tie the game, 1-1. Konecny now has two goals in as many games since his injury. He leads the Flyers with nine goals this season.
The Flyers will return to the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 5 to face the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m.©2022 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Visit at inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.