It’s safe to say, we had momentum coming into this game and well, we still have it! Maybe it’s a bit higher now that the Devils have a commanding 3-1 series lead! We very well knew that the Flyers would give it their all to try and tie up the series at 2. But hey, let’s not forget that they’re playing the NEW JERSEY DEVILS so anything the Flyers have “to say” means nothing and it was certainly proved tonight by the Devils’ performance.
I’m glad these games are being televised nationally because the Devils are taking advantage of this gift effectively. It was a very fast-paced game in the first 5 minutes! Though that was the case, New Jersey had the edge in all the important stats, except goals because Ilya Bryzgalov bailed the Flyers out on many Devils chances. This forced Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette (I just realized both Philly’s and NJ’s coaches first names start with Peter) to call a timeout at the 15:28 point. To be honest though, that didn’t have much of an effect on the Flyers until they were awarded a power play opportunity at the 11:05 point. Travis Zajac was called for interference but the penalty kill responded well! I’m surprised how the Devils PK was slapped in the face by the Florida Panthers but somehow returned back to its best-PK-in-the-NHL form against the Flyers (it must be effect of national TV!). Things really got interesting when Marek Zidlicky (aka Bum) took an interference penalty to give the Flyers their second power play of the game at the 8:17 point. 7 seconds after the faceoff, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell (who is in desperate need for a haircut if you ask me) tipped in a shot from teammate Claude Giroux. Hartnell’s 3rd of the playoffs was assisted by Giroux and Kimmo Timonen. Still, the Devils had a bit more control of the game. At the 6:33 point, Flyers defenseman Andreas Lilja took a tripping penalty to give the Devils their first power play opportunity. The first 13 seconds proved to be disastrous as Giroux swooped down off the faceoff to the Devils’ zone with the puck and backhanded one past Marty Brodeur. Giroux’s shorty was his 8th of the playoffs, assisted by Max Talbot. However, the power play was still on and eventually, the Devils cashed in! Petr Sykora just got one past Bryzgalov! Sykora’s power play goal at the 4:46 point was his 2nd of the playoffs, assisted by Bryce Salvador and Zajac. Now the Devils grabbed control of their chances yet Bryzgalov stopped most of NJ’s chances. He wasn’t so lucky with 1:51 left to play in the first when guess who? That’s right – it’s Bum, who redirected a great pass from Salvador to beat Bryzgalov! Zidlicky’s 1st of the playoffs was assisted by Salvador and Ilya Kovalchuk. With only 1:28 left to play, the unkempt Hartnell took a goalie interference penalty, giving the Devils another power play. They did not score but shots-on-goal after one were 16-7 in favor of NJ!
New Jersey opened up the period with 32 seconds of power play time. Decent amount of pressure but no goals. The Devils were firing many shots at will and many reached Bryzgalov. That’s the type of hockey you wanna see the Devils play in these playoffs! But the crowd was a bit too quiet, so, to reenergize them, Tim Sestito, who filled in for an injured Ryan Carter on the Devils’ 4th line, delivered a huge hit on Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. It energized the crowd and hopefully fans back at home too because my dad and I were jumping! At the 14:48 point, Flyers forward Sean Couturier (who came back from an injury) took a delay-of-game penalty by clearing the puck over the glass. The ensuing power play was a disappointment. While there were some shots that reached Bryzgalov, the Flyers cleared the puck for the majority of the time. They never capitalized on the advantage but the Devils continued to work hard. You’ve gotta feel bad for Steve Bernier though, who had 2 great chances to bear Bryzgalov at the 11:17 and 10:25 point respectively. This game could have (and should have) been 4-2 but Philadelphia has a talented goalie who is honestly difficult to solve. After 13 minutes of play in the period, the Flyers were shotless! Either that’s great presence from the boys in red and black or a complete malfunction from the outlaws in white and orange. Eventually though they broke that and had some scary chances to go up 3-2. Devils defense and Marty proved to be sharp and their efforts were rewarded. Dainius Zubrus shot the puck top-shelf on Bryzgalov to give the Devils a 3-2 lead! They finally solved him! Zubrus’ 2nd of the playoffs was assisted by Adam Henrique and Sykora at the 2:13 point. With only 40 seconds to play, the Devils were ery sloppy in their zone and nearly gave up a tying goal but the preserved their 3-2 lead heading into the locker room. Before the period ended however (about 3.6 seconds left), Giroux elbowed Zubrus in the head, which sent Zubrus down on the ice in pain. That kind of play is unheard of from a superstar player and it’s simply a cheap shot. While it was only a 2 minute minor, you be the judge and see the play for yourself here http://bit.ly/J4FSaz if Giroux deserves more than a minor (I’m thinking a Shanaban?). Nonetheless, the Devils finished the second period with shots-on-goal in their favor 32-12!
Luckily, Zubrus was okay and the Devils started the period with 1:57 of power play time due to Giroux’s head contact penalty (honestly I’ve never heard that one before). There wasn’t any goal scored but it was pretty entertaining to see Kovalchuk head butting the puck in the air to prevent an offside. While the linesmen called it offside anyway, the fans got a good laugh out of it. Perhaps Kovy can try out for the New York Red Bulls, who only play 5 minutes away from The Rock, after hockey season. Maybe someday however, hockey was the prime area of focus and the Devils used their timeout wisely at the 17:48 point because Kovalchuk and several players were a bit too casual with the puck. Just before the 14 minute mark, Marty made a big stop down low on Flyers forward Jake Voracek. This period, the Flyers scared me with their chances because the Devils played too defensively. The best offensive chance for NJ, in my opinion, came with 4:14 left to play. It was an entertaining chance too, when David Clarkson batted down the puck near the Flyers’ blue line and shot the puck aimlessly. Somehow that reached Bryzgalov, who was forced to cover it up. To save the Flyers’ dream of winning this game, Timonen took a holding penalty to stop Henrique from rushing any further towards Bryzgalov. The ensuing power play for New Jersey was decent but I would’ve loved to see a goal. This was because after the Flyers killed the penalty along with a half of minute of Devils pressure, Philadelphia was able to pull Bryzgalov with under a minute to go. Shortly after though, Zubrus came through and though being interfered with by a Flyer on his tail, he put the icing on the cake with an empty netter! That gave New Jersey a 4-2 lead with 45 seconds left. Zubrus’ 3rd of the playoffs and 2nd of the game was assisted by Mark Fayne and Brodeur! With 23 seconds left, the Flyers pulled Bryzgalov again and it seemed like the Devils got another empty netter just as time expired but that was it! The Devils held on and won 4-2! Shots-on-goal for the game were a well-deserved 43-22 in favor of NJ. This series is now 3-1 in favor of our beloved New Jersey Devils, who will attempt to close this out in Philadelphia in Game 5! Let’s go Devils!
- Bum (Zidlicky)
Next Game: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 Game 5: Devils @ Flyers 7:30 P.M. on NBC Sports Network.
Key Notes: From everyone here at Running With The Devils, A HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY TO MARTY BRODEUR! What a birthday present indeed, to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in front of the Devils Army! It was well deserved too, as Marty is now 2-2 on games played on his birthday. Overall, this was win #106 for him and he’s the only goalie to start as a teenager and as a 40 year old! Props to him and the sellout crowd at the Prudential Center of 17,625 for witnessing that!