Tyler J. Altemose
The Flyers took on the struggling New Jersey Devils this afternoon in the second of their home-and-home with the divisional rivals. The Flyers, fresh off of a road trip, were 7-3-0 in their past ten games and in second place in the Eastern Conference coming into this, their first home game of 2011.
Head coach Peter Laviolette, always one to go with the "don't fix it if it ain't broke" method, decided to keep the lineup exactly the same as it had been. Captain Mike Richards centered Andreas Nodl and James Van Riemsdyk on the top line, Briere remained the centerman for Hartnell and Leino, Carter centered Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux on the third line, and Blair Betts centered Shelley and Carcillo on the Flyers' fourth line.
On defense, Kimmo Timonen paired with Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, the league's leading +/- man, was paired with Matt Carle, and veteran Sean O'Donnell was paired with the young Oskars Bartulis.
Danny Syvret, who had been called up from the Phantoms for the injured-but-playing Kimmo Timonen, was sent back down to the Flyers' AHL affiliate. It's a good sign for the 35-year-old defenseman from Finland.
The Flyers maintained control of the game from the get-go. 8:13 into the game, JVR scored on a wrister through the 5-hole of Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg after using his size to fight through the Devils defense.
The Flyers took their one-goal lead and built on their momentum. Danny Briere scored his 21st goal of the season on a power play later in the period off of a Giroux pass from the slot.
Briere's goal was the last that Hedberg would see. Immediately afterward he was pulled in exchange for Martin Brodeur. The Flyers maintained control of the game for the remainder of the period but were unable to extend their 2-0 lead.
The Flyers began the second period with an unsuccessful power play attempt, but maintained control of the game until the halfway mark. Even with the man advantage, the Devils seemed to be putting forth little to no effort and couldn't seem to get much going.
Andy Greene later cut the Flyers lead in half with a fluky shot. It appeared to hit Ville Leino, bounce up and over Devils forward Dainius Zubrus and Kimmo Timonen, and over Boucher's shoulder into the net.
The Devils took advantage of the fact that a lucky bounce had gone their way for once and continued to control the pace of the game for the remainder of the period. Fortunately for Philly, the red-hot Brian Boucher managed to keep the score at 2-1. By the end of the period, the Devils were outshooting the Flyers 24-19.
The Flyers once again picked up the pace in the third. They controlled the puck more than they did in the second and received more opportunities. They also played more disciplined, not drawing a single penalty in the period.
Brodeur left the Devils with an open net with 1:15 to play, but the Flyers failed to score on the empty net. They went on to win by a final score of 2-1. Brian Boucher stopped 34 of 35 shots and was the main reason the Devils didn't score with their last push in the waning moments of the game.
The Flyers take on the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena Tuesday night at 7:30.