Flyers Fall To Devils 2-1

Published on March 12th, 2014

By Anthony Mingioni

PHILADELPHIA-On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Flyers lost a key Metropolitan Division game to the New Jersey Devils after an apparent game tying goal by Scott Hartnell was called off due to a goaltender interference by referee Tim Kowal.

The loss dropped Philadelphia into a tie for third place in the division (eighth place overall in the Eastern Conference) with the Columbus Blue Jackets and only two points clear of New Jersey.

As the clock winded down into the final minute of play, the Flyers were involved in a battle along the left boards with the Devils’ penalty killers. The puck came free to a waiting Jakub Voracek who found Hartnell cutting to the net with New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov following closely.

The Flyers left wing seemingly scored but his collision with goaltender Martin Brodeur’s upper body was deemed interference, even though the Russian defenseman caused the momentum that caused Hartnell to bump into the Hall of Famer in the first place.

After the no goal call, there was a quick review by the league which upheld Kowal’s initial assessment.

Voracek minced no words when giving his thoughts.

“I don’t know if they even blew the whistle. Like I don’t know what was the call. I mean he didn’t have it covered. The puck was under him but for what a split second? I mean how with the playoffs on the line to make a call like that. It’s f—–g incredible, sorry for the language but it’s a joke.”

“It was a shock for me and after that like I said the buzzer [went off] I thought it was going to be a goal. It’s the playoffs on the line.”

Flyers head coach Craig Berube wasn’t quite as visceral in his thoughts on Kowal’s call.

“(Hartnell) was probably pushed a little, but it’s a 50/50 play.”

For as much focus on the non-goal call as there was, another bitter reality for the Flyers was that their power play was ineffective against the NHL’s second ranked penalty killing unit, coming away with no goals in six attempts.

“Yeah, it probably should’ve been a difference but I thought during the first period and third period our power play looked good,” Berube said. “We shot the puck, had some good looks, second period not so good, but (with) six power plays you’ve got to make it happen.”

While movement on the first power play opportunity was excellent, the Devils adjusted on the remaining chances, taking away passing lanes, blocking shots, and limiting the Flyers chances to perimeter plays with the exception of a Claude Giroux end line pass to a net crashing Wayne Simmonds for a whip around try.

It’s a play that almost never works and the Devils played it like they knew it.

“They’re a good positioning team,” Giroux said. “They defend well. We had our chances; it didn’t go in. We had some good chances and good shots. I guess that’s frustrating.”

Shortly after the Flyers initial power play, the Devils were first on the scoreboard. Travis Zajac scored when defensemen Mark Streit and Andy MacDonald were caught out of position after a perfect short pass by Jagr out of a scrum allowed the Devils center to get alone in front of goalie Steve Mason.

Patiently biding his time, Zajac waited for the Flyers goalie to commit low before putting the puck over him.

The Devils would carry play for the remainder of the first period and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room, but they began to get away from their defensive scheme in the second period shortly after Nicklas Grossmann fired a seeing eye shot that possibly ticked off Devils’ forwards Michael Ryder before disappearing beneath Brodeur.

Motivated by the tying goal, the Flyers began to exploit the Devils’ heavy two man forecheck and gained more offensive zone chances against Brodeur, finishing the second period with a 12-7 shot advantage.

But the Devils would again frustrate the Flyers in the third as play began to get choppy. Too many drop- and cross-ice passes (such as a spin-o-rama feed by Vincent Lecavalier on one second period two on one break) by the home team allowed New Jersey to navigate the dangers and gained sustained pressure.

It was during one of those cycles that New Jersey got the game winning goal as the ageless Jagr backhanded a shot by the left post that somehow snuck past Mason.

“Just found a little hole,” Mason said. “He was able to kind of just chip it and it snuck through there. He’s a big body, strong player when he has the puck on his stick and is able to protect it. But there, just a little chip shot and he was able to find a hole.”

And with that, the Flyers march to the playoffs just got a little bit harder.

Next up for Philadelphia will be a Saturday afternoon date with the division leading Pittsburgh Penguins.

Source:  Andrew King

Source: Andrew King

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