In a normal hockey season, a team’s success or failure can often be traced back to a defining moment. It may be one game or a series of games that determine the direction a team and a season will ultimately take. Over an 82 game schedule, it can be hard to see where things went right or wrong until a season is over and there is time to look back. In a lockout shortened season, these dare to be great situations can be seen from miles away, as if they are exits on highway, for a usually long trip that has been cut in half by distance.
The Flyers find themselves in the midst of a defining moment in their season; a six game road trip that makes threes stops within the division, with opportunities to make up ground in the standings and to make a statement. Tonight was step back and a missed opportunity.
The game started poorly for the Flyers (6-8-1, 13 Points), when the Devils (9-2-3, 21 Points) scored just 40 seconds into the game. Travis Zajac buried a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk short side on Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and gave the Devils a quick 1-0 lead.
The Flyers tied up the game just before the mid-point of the first period, when Wayne Simmonds was able to find the Martin Brodeur’s five hole with a nice back hand on the power play. The goal was Simmonds’ fourth of the season.
Matt Read drilled a Claude Giroux pass past Brodeur just 48 seconds after the Knuble goal, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead with just under eight minutes left in the first period. The Flyers would take the two goal lead into the first intermission.
The Devils started the second period just like they started the first, scoring just 26 seconds in when Brodeur hit Kovalchuk with a long pass just beyond center ice and he was able to get the puck to Alexei Ponikarovsky who beat Bryzgalov over his right shoulder, cutting the Flyers lead to 3-2.
With just under five minutes left in the second, Patrick Elias tallied his fourth goal of the season by squeaking shot through the pads of Bryzgalov, tying the game at 3-3. The Flyers early two goal lead was gone by the second intermission.
The Flyers hit some tough luck in the second and third periods when they were finding the post, including a great scoring opportunity for Giroux to give the Flyers the lead.
The Flyers were unable to generate a lot of pressure after the Clarkson goal and with just under two minutes left in the game, Flyers Coach Peter Lavilolette took a risk and pulled Bryzgaloiv with the Flyers in control of the puck, however, just after Bryz left the net the Devils gained control of the piuck and Steve Bernier buried the empty net goal to ice the game and give the Devils a 5-3 lead.
The Flyers played the third period without veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who was removed from the game with a lower body injury.
This night could be a lead and a game the Flyers look back on as a moment that contributed to them losing control of the season. This team is now off to a 1-2 start on the six game road trip and they head to Montreal tomorrow for a game against the Habs. Tonight’s loss put this Flyers team in a situation where they almost have to get at least one point out of every game left on this trip and may need to wind three of the four. When you have a have a two goal lead on the Devils and Brodeur on the road, you have to hold it. In a normal season, this game was important. In a shortened season, it was a must win and leaving with no points is devastating to a team that just can’t seem to get any momentum.Tags: Claude Giroux, Ilya Bryzgalov, injury, Kimmo Timonen, loss, Matt Read, Mike Knubkle, New Jersey Devils, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Ruslan Fedotenko, Wayne Simmonds