Never mind that New Jersey is at the bottom of the Metropolitan standings.
“They’re not having the season they want, but they have some good players over there,” Flyers center Kevin Hayes insisted after the morning skate Thursday. “You can’t take them lightly. There’s guys on that team that are in contract years and guys that are trying to make an impression on their [new] coaching staff.”
On Thursday night, the Devils impressed their coaches.
The Flyers? Not so much.
New Jersey scored 13 seconds into the game and never looked back, trouncing the Flyers, 5-0, at the Wells Fargo Center and stopping the momentum they had built with a 6-1-1 run.
Sloppy passing, an ineffective power play, and a defense that allowed numerous odd-man rushes drew loud boos as the Flyers lost to the lowly Devils for the first time in their three meetings this season.
“Bad game. Nothing you can do now. We have to regroup and win Saturday” in Washington, Jake Voracek said after playing in his 900th career game.
It was the second time in franchise history the Flyers were shut out when taking 46 or more shots. They took 48 shots in a 3-0 loss to Chicago in 1969 at the Spectrum.
“Nobody’s happy how they played tonight, starting from me on out,” goalie Brian “Moose” Elliott said. “It’s just disappointing at this time of the year to put that type of game on the ice. We’ve got a big one coming up and have a chance to answer the bell there.”
Rookie Mackenzie Blackwood, who took a 3.00 goals-against average into the game, made 46 saves to register his second shutout of the season.
“Anything that could go wrong, did,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “At the end of the day, they made us pay for our mistakes.”
The Flyers outshot the Devils, 46-19, but Blackwood had all the answers.
Now the Flyers must play the powerful Capitals on the road Saturday.
“The important question for me is getting my team ready for Washington,” Vigneault said.
Vigneault later added: “I will reaffirm that we are getting into the playoffs. ... Once you’re one of the 16 teams, your chances are as good as anybody’s. St. Louis proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt last year.”
New Jersey secured the win by scoring two goals 3 minutes, 23 seconds apart early in the third period to build a 4-0 lead.
Pavel Zacha finished off a two-on-one to score a shorthanded goal with 18:50 left in the third, and Miles Wood (two goals) made it 4-0 by scoring on a breakaway after Shayne Gostisbehere lost the puck at his own blue line.
Wood’s goal sent Elliott to the bench in favor of Alex Lyon. Elliott had carried the Flyers recently.
“We hung Moose out to dry tonight,” Gostisbehere said.
The Devils began the night 19 points behind the surging Flyers. They had lost their previous three games (Nashville, Dallas, and Montreal), but each went past regulation
So they have been competitive.
On the game’s first shift, rookie defenseman Phil Myers was victimized by Travis Zajac’s hustle. Zajac beat Myers to the puck behind the goal line and fed an uncovered Blake Coleman in the slot. Coleman (20th goal) put a backhander past Elliott, and the Devils had a 1-0 lead after just 13 seconds.
It was the first of three goals scored against Claude Giroux’s line, and it marked the first time the Flyers had allowed the opening tally in the last seven games.
The Devils made it 2-0 as Damon Severson’s right-circle power-play shot went over Elliott’s shoulder -- the goalie will want that one back – with 18:21 remaining in the second.
Later in the second, Voracek, from the doorstep, had an empty net, but he put a shot off the right post and defenseman P.K. Subban cleared it before it went into the net. A little over two minutes later, Travis Konecny deflected a shot off the post while the Flyers were on a power play.
So the Devils maintained their 2-0 lead, and the Flyers were serenaded with boos as the second period ended.
The Flyers finished 0-for-4 on the power play. They allowed a shorthanded goal and the Devils had an inordinate amount of scoring chances while one of their players was in the penalty box.