(Sports Network) - An important home-and-home series kicks off Wednesday in
New Jersey, as the Devils host the Philadelphia Flyers in a clash between
The Devils appeared to be well on their way to the postseason after an 8-1-3
start to the year, but the club has gone 4-8-2 since and is now sitting
seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, has scuffled all season long and the 12-14-1 club is
currently three points out of a playoff spot.
Both teams were in the playoffs last spring and the clubs met in the Eastern
Conference semifinals where the Devils slammed Philly in five games. New
Jersey went on to represent the East in the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to
the Los Angeles Kings.
New Jersey has won both games against the Flyers since that playoff encounter,
beating Philadelphia in a pair of games at the Prudential Center. The Devils
have won four of the last five regular-season meetings overall and three
straight on home ice.
However, the Devils had No. 1 goaltender Martin Brodeur for the two earlier
meetings this season, but the future Hall of Famer is currently out with a
sore back. Brodeur has missed the last nine games with the ailment and Jersey
is just 2-6-1 in those contests.
Two of the club's wins without Brodeur, however, have come over the last three
games. Most recently, New Jersey was able to notch Sunday's 3-2 shootout win
against visiting Winnipeg. The Devils blew an early 2-0 lead, but Patrik Elias
scored the only goal in the shootout to help them get two points.
After the first four shooters came up empty, Elias skated in and snuck a
backhander through the five-hole of Ondrej Pavelec to put the Devils in front.
Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd had a chance to extend the shootout, but Johan Hedberg
was able to turn away Ladd's wrister to send the Devils to victory.
Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta scored in regulation for New Jersey. The Devils
also received 23 saves from Hedberg, who improved to 4-7-2 on the season.
"When we got to the shootout, I knew that we were in good position to win the
game," Hedberg said. "I really needed this, and maybe now I can put a few good
The victory moved New Jersey to 8-3-2 as the host this season compared to a
4-6-3 mark on the road.
The Flyers are just 4-10-0 as the visiting team in 2013 and have lost both of
their road games in March.
After getting shut out Saturday in Boston, the Flyers regrouped for a win the
following night against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Simon Gagne and Maxime
Talbot scored early goals and Philadelphia held on for a much-needed 3-2 win.
Claude Giroux added the eventual game-winner 17 seconds into the second
period, while Kimmo Timonen recorded two assists in Philadelphia's first
victory after three consecutive defeats.
Ilya Bryzgalov aided the cause as well, contributing an assist on Gagne's goal
in addition to making 18 saves between the pipes. Bryzgalov is expected to
start for the 26th time in 28 games on Wednesday.
"That's a step forward," said Giroux of the win. "We needed those two points
tonight and we obviously have a big test in front of us [Wednesday at New
Jersey], so we need to make sure we're pretty sharp going forward."
The Flyers will host the finale of this series Friday night at the Wells Fargo
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