NEWARK, N.J. (AP)The New Jersey Devils are starting to find ways to lose and the latest one was a standout performance by goaltender Carter Hart of the Flyers.
Hart matched his career high with 48 saves and almost single-handedly extended the Devils’ season-high skid to four games as Philadelphia posted a 2-1 win in a game decided by Travis Konecny’s breakaway goal with 8:14 to play.
”He was dialed in,” said Scott Laughton, who also scored as the Flyers snapped a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and beat the Devils for the second time in three meetings.
”Big save there in the third,” Laughton added. ”Even at the end, slides cross-crease. Saves a back-door chance. You need your goalie to be good, especially against a team like that with so much speed and skill. He was great for us.”
Hart not only stopped all but one shot but at least a dozen were top-quality chances, including an opportunity in close by Jesper Bratt in the waning seconds.
”They (defense) did a good job of letting me see the puck, boxing guys out, not letting them get any second whacks at pucks, loose pucks,” said Hart, who also had 48 saves in a win over Florida earlier this season. ”The one at the end there with what, 10 seconds left, was off to my blocker, squirts to the middle and Risto (Rasmus Ristolainen) does a good job of clearing it. That was a huge play at the end.”
Jack Hughes scored for the Devils and Vitek Vanecek had 22 saves as New Jersey fell to 0-3-1 in its last four.
Center Erik Haula said the Devils (21-7-2) are still in a good spot.
”But, you know, we lost four in a row. It’s like it’s not good,” he said. ”We’re not happy about it. It’s very frustrating to us and it’s unacceptable.”
The decisive goal came when a pass by Devils defenseman Damon Severson from the boards in the Flyers’ zone was deflected. Konecny, who had mixed it up with Hughes in the second period, intercepted the puck, skated alone into the Devils zone and beat Vanecek to the stick side for his 12th goal.
Devils coach Lindy Ruff was annoyed after the game, saying the Flyers didn’t have a chance in the third period and he had just told his team not to make any high-risk passes.
”To make that play and trap those people, that was totally unacceptable,” Ruff said of Severson’s pass.
Severson said his pass was deflected and it was enough to give Konecny a chance.
”If it connects, it’s a dangerous one,” Severson said. ”If it doesn’t, unfortunately, it didn’t.”
Hughes opened the scoring with a spectacular power-play goal 4:20 after the opening faceoff. A clearing pass had deflected off Dougie Hamilton in the neutral zone. It went to Hughes, who split defensemen Ivan Provorov and Lukas Sedlak, skated in on Hart and beat him with a shot off the far goalpost for his 16th goal.
Laughton tied the game early in the second period with shot from the right point that a screen prevented Vanecek from seeing. It was his fifth goal.
THURSDAY NIGHT FIGHTS
For a couple of minutes in the second period, it looked like an old Devils-Flyers rivalry game.
Philadelphia forward Nicolas Deslauriers pummeled Devils forward Michael McLeod in a long fight about four minutes after the Flyers tied the game 1-all.
A little more than two minutes later, Flyers forward Joel Farabee, who is not much of a fighter, mixed it up with Devils defenseman Brendan Smith. It didn’t last long and there was more dancing than punches.
The Flyers put a non-roster status on defenseman Tony DeAngelo. He missed his fourth straight game for undisclosed personal reasons. Philadelphia recalled forward Olle Lycksell from Lehigh Valley (AHL) to replace him on the roster.
Flyers: Return home and play the Rangers Saturday.
Devils: Host Florida on Saturday in the finale of a three-game homestand.
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