It’s been almost nine months since the Philadelphia Flyers have won a game.
New Jersey made sure to extend that streak.
The Devils defeated the Flyers, 3-0, tonight at the Prudential Center. It was the home-opener for New Jersey, now 2-0-0 on the season.
The loss kept Philadelphia winless, dropping them to 0-3-0.
New Jersey has now won eight consecutive regular season games, a streak extending from the 2011-12 season. They’ve also beat Philadelphia in five straight games.
When asked why they’ve had so much success against the Flyers, Devils captain Bryce Salvador couldn’t point to any specific reason.
“It’s just the way it goes sometimes,” he said.
The Devils made the most of their opportunities in the first period, scoring two goals on three shots. Travis Zajac opened the game with his second goal of the season just 1:07 into the first period. Dainius Zubrus beat his defender to the puck behind the Flyers net, carrying it above the left circle. He sent a pass to Salvador, who fired a shot from the left point. Ilya Bryzgalov made the initial save, but Zajac was alone in front, and put the rebound past him for the goal.
David Clarkson extended the lead to 2-0 with just 25 seconds remaining in the opening frame. With the Devils on a powerplay, the right wing found a loose puck at the left side of the net. His wraparound attempt went off the skate of Ruslan Fedotenko and past Bryzgalov for Clarkson’s second goal of the season.
Despite the two goal advantage, the Devils were badly outplayed for most of the period. Martin Brodeur kept Philadelphia at bay, stopping nine shots in the opening frame. Devils coach Pete DeBoer credited the Devils goaltender for keeping New Jersey afloat in the first period.
“He’s amazing,” DeBoer said. “What else do you say? He looks like he’s 20 years old in the there. The energy… he was fantastic. He gave us a chance to hang in early.”
“Marty stood on his head and gave us chance,” Salvador said.
Those two scores helped New Jersey right the ship during the first intermission.
“We got a couple of good bounces in the first,” Stephen Gionta said. “We took that momentum, got out of that first and took it from there.”
Ilya Kovalchuk extended the lead to 3-0 with a shorthanded score in the middle frame. Kovalchuk corralled a Patrik Elias clearing attempt at center ice, breaking in ahead of Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. The Flyers defenseman dragged Kovalchuk down, giving the left wing the penalty shot. He didn’t miss, going with a forehand deke before roofing a backhand over Bryzgalov for his first goal of the season.
It didn’t take long for the rivalry to heat up. After a relatively clean first period, the two teams combined for 64 penalty minutes, including two fights and 10 roughing minors.
Brodeur acknowledged the importance of beating their division rival, but stressed playing well in each game during this lockout-shortened season.
“It’s a big win,” the Devils goalie said. “You know, we’re not going to be perfect all the time. Every game means a lot. I think it’s important that you play well against everybody.