Devils blank punchless, winless Flyers
BY SAM CARCHIDI, The Philadelphia Inquirer
NEWARK, N.J. -- Up went the New Jersey Devils' Eastern Conference championship banner the other day.
Down went the Flyers on Tuesday night, falling to the Devils, 3-0, and starting their season 0-3 for just the third time since the franchise started in 1967-68.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur made 24 saves and shut out the Flyers for the 10th time.
It was the home opener for the Devils, who used a suffocating defense as they eliminated the Flyers, four games to one, in last year's Eastern Conference semifinals.
This is all you need to know about the state of the punchless Flyers these days: Midway through Tuesday's game, they held a 13-5 advantage in shots ... and trailed, 3-0, at the roaring, sold-out Prudential Center.
The Devils scored on three of their first four shots.
The Flyers allowed another power-play goal, thanks to another goofy deflection off one of their own player's skates.
They surrendered a shorthanded goal, scored on a penalty shot by Ilya Kovalchuk, who turned goalie Ilya Bryzgalov inside out and beat him with a backhander. They huffed and puffed and outplayed the Devils from Newark to Newtown Square for the first half of the game.
But they came up empty. Again.
The Flyers also started the season 0-3 in the lockout-shortened 1995 season -- they finished 28-16-4 and won the East, thanks to an early-season deal that netted them John LeClair and Eric Dejardins -- and in 1989-90, when they finished 30-39-11. On four other occasions, they began a season winless in the first three games, but they had at least one tie (or overtime loss) in all of those starts.
Coach Peter Laviolette, trying to awaken an offense that produced a total of three goals in the first two games, changed all four of his lines.
The Flyers kept the puck in New Jersey's end for most of the opening 20 minutes and outshot the Devils, 9-3.
One problem: The Devils scored on two of their three shots -- one that caromed off the skate of Ruslan Fedotenko for a power-play goal with 25 seconds left in the period -- and built a hard-to-fathom 2-0 lead.
David Clarkson, who tried to score on a wraparound, got credit for the goal after it ricocheted off Fedotenko and past Bryzgalov. The goalie had lost his stick seconds earlier and had no chance.
At that point, the Flyers had allowed opponents to score six power-play goals in 10 attempts in the young season.
Just 1:07 into the game, Travis Zajac, alone in front, knocked down a pass/shot and easily beat Bryzgalov to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead.
In between those two goals, the Flyers buzzed around Brodeur throughout the first period, but the legendary 40-year-old goalie made all the stops, including a handful of acrobatic ones that triggered "Marty, Marty, Marty" chants.
The Flyers, who will aim for their first win Thursday against the visiting New York Rangers, have been outscored, 5-0, in the first period of their three games.
Kovalchuk's goal made opponents 17 for 34 in against the Flyers in penalty shots in franchise history -- and it seemed to take the heart out of the visitors, though they did kill a 5-on-3 disadvantage as Bryzgalov made some quality saves late in the second period.
Heading into the third, the Flyers' power play was 0 for 4 on the night and 1 for 13 (7.7 percent) on the season.
Devils 3, Flyers 0
First Period--1, New Jersey, Zajac 2 (Salvador, Zubrus), 1:07. 2, New Jersey, Clarkson 2 (Kovalchuk, Zidlicky), 19:35 (pp). Penalties--Zidlicky, NJ (high-sticking), 12:00; Kovalchuk, NJ (tripping), 14:20; Coburn, Phi (interference), 19:25.
Second Period--3, New Jersey, Kovalchuk 1 (penalty shot), 2:44 (sh). Penalties--Zidlicky, NJ (slashing), 1:39; Tedenby, NJ (tripping), 5:02; Hartnell, Phi (roughing), 10:31; Voracek, Phi (roughing), 10:31; Clarkson, NJ (roughing), 10:31; Matteau, NJ (roughing), 10:31; Simmonds, Phi, served by McGinn, double minor (goaltender interference, roughing), 12:50; Bernier, NJ, double minor (roughing), 12:50; Philadelphia bench, served by McGinn (abuse of officials), 15:56; Coburn, Phi (high-sticking), 16:46.
Third Period--None. Penalties--Giroux, Phi (abuse of officials), 6:49; Clarkson, NJ (interference), 7:35; Talbot, Phi (slashing, roughing), 11:22; Salvador, NJ (roughing, slashing), 11:22; Giroux, Phi (slashing), 12:24; Grossmann, Phi (delay of game), 12:32; Zidlicky, NJ (interference), 12:50; Simmonds, Phi, major (fighting), 15:28; Clarkson, NJ, major (fighting), 15:28; B.Schenn, Phi, major (fighting), 19:27; Bernier, NJ, major (fighting), 19:27.
Shots on Goal--Philadelphia 9-8-7--24. New Jersey 3-13-10--26.
Power-play opportunities--Philadelphia 0 of 6; New Jersey 1 of 7.
Goalies--Philadelphia, Bryzgalov 0-3-0 (26 shots-23 saves). New Jersey, Brodeur 2-0-0 (24-24).
Referees--Brad Watson, Jean Hebert. Linesmen--Anthony Sericolo, Brian Mach.