NEWARK, N.J. (AP)The New Jersey Devils honored their 2003 Stanley Cup championship team before playing the Philadelphia Flyers, and then they went out and played like the NHL’s best team.
Dawson Mercer scored in his sixth straight game, Akira Schmid made 24 saves in posting his first shutout and the Devils pounded the Flyers 7-0 on Saturday night, handing Philadelphia goaltender Samuel Ersson his first loss.
”You can feel the emotion in the rink when they’re coming out (the ’03 team) and just to see those guys so happy that they were back together with everyone and that’s a special bond,” Mercer said. ”That’s what happens with winning teams and hopefully we can just keep working in the right direction.”
Jonas Siegenthaler, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton, Jesper Bratt and Nathan Bastian also scored as the Devils improved to 15-3-2 in their last 20 games. The seven-goal winning margin was New Jersey’s largest of the season, and the output matched their season high.
”I thought it was a great night just to honor all the players that were here and play the way we did,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”It’s something to be proud of.”
Ersson, who was the 12th NHL goaltender to win each of his first six decision, was outstanding making 29 saves as Philadelphia fell to 1-6-1 in its last eight games. Two of the Devils’ goals were deflected by Flyers players, another one came when a defenseman was pushed into Ersson and opened the crease and four were on his doorstep by open players.
”I let in seven goals. I can’t be happy,” Ersson said. ”But like, yeah, it’s tough. I mean, I want to win every game. I want to save every puck. So it’s obviously a lot of goals. I have to make a couple of saves here.”
Mercer extended his streak with his eighth goal in the last six games, and 19th overall. The last Devils player to score in six straight games was Adam Henrique in 2014. The franchise record is eight games set by Paul Gardner in 1977-78 when the team played in Colorado before the move to New Jersey.
”I was kind of just trying to get myself open,” said Mercer, who was set up right in front by Hischier late in the second period for a 3-0 lead. ”I knew Nico saw me like he was looking around and I was hoping their defense didn’t realize so I kind of just left it up to Nico.”
The Flyers are in transition and and shorthanded because of injuries.
”We have to think about winning games 2-1 because we’re just not built to make a bunch of offensive plays right now,” coach John Tortorella said. ”The effort is there. I just don’t think we’re using our head and understanding how we have to play.”
Siegenthaler gave the Devils the lead on a point shot deflected by a Flyers’ player. The defenseman set up Hughes’ breakaway goal – his 36th – later in the second period. Mercer made it 3-0 and New Jersey added four more goals in the third period.
Flyers veteran forward James van Riemsdyk was banged up and did not play, Tortorella said. It could be a prelude to a trade.
NOTES: Flyers C Elliot Desnoyers, 21, was called up from Lehigh Valley (AHL) and played in his first NHL game. … Flyers D Nick Seeler won a second-period slugfest with Devils C Michael McLeod. … Hughes’ goal was his first since returning to the lineup on Feb. 18 after missing four games with an upper-body injury.
Flyers: Return home to host the slumping New York Rangers on Wednesday night.
Devils: At Colorado to start a three-game road trip on Wednesday night.
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