Devils seek cure to road woes against Flyers
The New Jersey Devils polished off the Pittsburgh Penguins to boost their home record to 6-1-1.
But the road has been a different story.
The Devils, sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division, take a 1-7-0 record away from home into Philadelphia for Thursday night’s game with the Flyers.
Tuesday night’s 4-2 victory — with Taylor Hall scoring two third-period goals and assisting on the other two goals — came after the club returned from a 1-6 trip.
“Not just a win but an effort we can be proud of,” Hall said after scoring on a breakaway with 8:07 left and then adding an empty-net goal. “It’s not an effort where we solely relied on our goaltender to steal a game. We did a good job of eliminating chances against a high-powered team.
“Our game has to continue to grow that way. And when we play strong in our end, it allows us to just play more free up the ice and create more, have the puck more.
“It was a solid night for us.”
The same night, the Flyers saw their six-game points streak (5-0-1) end with a 2-1 home loss to the Florida Panthers.
The Flyers were listless through two periods, came on in the third but fell short as the Panthers won their fifth straight.
“The intensity wasn’t up to what we need it to be,” said goalie Brian Elliott, who stopped 28 shots while playing his third straight game. “I thought we brought it in the third period, but it’s a little late.”
Back on Oct. 20, the Flyers topped the Devils 5-2 in Philadelphia.
New Jersey’s lone road win of the season was a 5-1 pasting of the Pittsburgh Penguins on their seven-game road trip. But Brian Boyle, who had a hat trick in that game, is out with an upper-body injury.
Nico Hischier missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury and is day to day. Hischier played in all 82 games as an 18-year-old last year.
Jake Voracek had a goal and two assists in Philadelphia’s 5-2 win on Oct. 20.
Elliott is 6-4-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .895 save percentage lifetime against New Jersey. But Cal Pickard has won both of his starts against the Devils, stopping 52 of 54 shots.
Keith Kinkaid, who had a strong game Tuesday night, is an impressive 6-2-0 with 2.47/.911 lifetime against the Flyers, who will play the fourth game of a five-game homestand Thursday.
The Devils make the quick bus trip down the Jersey Turnpike but then return home to face the Detroit Red Wings in a Saturday matinee. However, they go right back on the road for a game at Carolina on Sunday.
The Flyers should get James van Riemsdyk, out since the second game of the season with a lower-body injury, back soon — perhaps as soon as Thursday. He was Philadelphia’s big offseason free agent signing but took a puck to a knee in Game 2.
“That’s not the way you draw it up when you’re thinking of coming back,” he said Tuesday. “But it is what it is. These sort of things happen. They’re part of the game, and unfortunately it was a fluky thing.
“It’s not one of those things where I can look back and say, ‘Oh, if I prepared a little better, or did this a little differently, then maybe this wouldn’t have happened.’ I pride myself on taking really good care of myself and putting myself in a good position to succeed.”
Coach Dave Hakstol said, “Coming into the year, he was a guy we felt was going to be a big part for us. It’s unfortunate he went out early with the injury, but no question we’re looking forward to getting him back into the mix … and getting his abilities and his veteran presence back into our lineup.”