New York, NY - The New Jersey Devils 15-29-3) second half surge continued with a statement with their 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in hockey action on Saturday afternoon. This maybe one of the biggest victories of the season, as the Flyers (31-12-5) are the leaders of the Eastern conference.
New Jersey looked sharp and skated well in the first period of play, and was rewarded for their first goal of the game at the 5:25 mark of that frame. It was a goal by Henrik Tallinder (2), who scorched home a 61 foot slap shot at the 5:25 mark for the 1-0 lead.
Tallinder took advantage of a panicked Mike Richards, who instead of clearing the puck out of the Flyers zone gave the puck right to Tallinder who then proceeded to immediately shoot the puck past keeper Brian Boucher for the first Devils goal.
The Devils were able to strike again, when Patrik Elias (11) came out of the Flyers corner with the puck at the 12:12 mark. As Mark Fayne (2) and Brian Rolston (eight) set up the winger, who made it look as if he was going to pass the puck, but instead netted a five foot wrister past Boucher to make the score 2-0 in favor of New Jersey to end the first period of play.
There was seven failed clearing attempts by the Flyers in the first period of play-one of those led to the first New Jersey goal of the game. The Devils also had the 10-5 shots advantage at the end of the first period.
Philadelphia would find a better start to the second period as James van Riemsdyk had an awesome breakout move along with a wicked 34 foot snap shot, but that would be denied by the glove of Devils keeper Johan Hedberg. The Flyers would continue to try to press their offensive momentum trying for a short-handed goal at the 4:09 mark as Mike Richards tried for a nine foot deflection that was once again denied by Hedberg.
Chris Pronger had two golden opportunities as at the 6:33 mark he tried for a 57 foot snap shot that was saved by Hedberg, then again at the 6:55 mark as a 60 foot slap shot was denied by the Devils keeper. ‘The Moose’ would continue to be impressive in the cage stopping a Danny Briere 46 foot slap shot at the 16:51 mark of that frame.
The Flyers hard work would finally pay off just before the horn sounded to end the second period of play. On a beautiful set up by Claude Giroux (24) and Mike Richards (28) got the puck to winger James van Riemsdyk. The winger then was able to tip-in a six foot shot at the 19:14 mark of the second, to cut the Devils lead to 2-1.
The Flyers would try to continue their offensive momentum in the third period of play, including a golden opportunity at the 15:45 mark by Danny Briere on a wrap-around shot that would be blanked by Johan Hedberg. ‘The Moose’ would then rob Jeff Carter of a nine foot wrister opportunity at the 17:14 mark as Hedberg would sprawl out of the cage to make the save of the bouncing puck.
Danny Briere would attempt another shot in the final minutes of the third period, but again Hedberg would be on his game smothering the puck in his huge pads. The Devils would gain their last goal of the game as Patrik Elias (12) would record an empty netter on a 12 wrister, which was set up by Brian Roloson (9) and Henrik Tallinder (5) for the 3-1 victory.
New Jersey is now 5-0-1 since the midway mark of the season, along with now holding a three game winning streak. The team has played improved hockey since Jacques Lemaire took over the reigns. Lemaire now has 594 career victories behind the bench and will reach the 600 mark if the team continues to play the way they are right now.
Second star and keeper Hedberg finished the night with 26 saves, while on the other side of the ice Brian Boucher made 19 saves in the cage for the Flyers.
New Jersey will return home on Sunday as they host the Florida Panthers for a 3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon face-off in Newark.
Note: Devils blue liner Colin White left the ice after the first period of play with either an upper or lower body injury. No further reports on how long White will be out of the line-up.