It was by no means a triumphant return for Shayne Gostisbehere. There were no 60-foot whistlers from the blue line finding the back of the Devils’ net. There was no dazzling end-to-end rush to set up a goal.

But it wasn’t too bad, either. Especially for a guy who hadn’t played a game in five months, and who had one practice in two-plus weeks after the coronavirus knocked him on his butt.

Alain Vigneault had planned to play Gostisbehere about 18 minutes on Tuesday. He played him almost 22.

“His game was good,” the Flyers coach said, “and he was playing better than a couple of other guys back there. So, he earned the ice time and he was out there in key situations for us.”

Injuries and ineffectiveness have compelled Vigneault and his staff to mix things up nightly.

Mark Friedman, who was the eighth defenseman when the season opened, found himself Tuesday starting on the second pairing with Travis Sanheim.

Justin Braun, who was opposite Robert Hagg, had another rough night. Erik Gustafsson, the only addition in the offseason, was a healthy scratch. And still the Flyers managed to pick up a much-needed victory. They play at New Jersey again on Thursday (7 p.m., NBCSP).

Flyers defensemen Tuesday
Ivan Provorov
Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg
Justin Braun
Mark Friedman

“Overall, I’m pretty pumped. It was a good game, solid game for myself and a great team win,” said Gostisbehere, who played 21 minutes, 57 seconds, and was a plus-2. “Playing with [Ivan Provorov] again is really nice. He makes you look good when you play with him. It was good.”

Provorov had two assists and played 27:43, easily a game high for both teams.

Gostisbehere, a left-handed shot, played on the right side opposite Provorov. He prefers that side of the ice, even if it did lead him to play nearly nine minutes in the second period because he was on the opposite side of the Flyers’ bench, and it’s the period of the longer defensive line changes.

The Flyers are at their worst when they get hemmed in their own zone trying to get the puck out and looking like they’re swinging flyswatters instead of hockey sticks. Gostisbehere several times helped advance the puck, and then went and joined the rush.

He had a couple turnovers, too. But after a rough trip in Boston, Gostisbehere’s performance was encouraging. Provorov said they “read off each other well.”

“He looked like he didn’t miss a beat,” said James van Riemsdyk. “Just making smart plays on the breakouts, those little 10-foot passes. Looked really dynamic and confident. I thought he had a really good first game for having all of that time off.”

The Flyers shouldn’t be depending on Gostisbehere to play 22 minutes a night at this stage in his comeback, but for now they don’t have much of a choice.

“We’re going to need him to continue to find his game and continue to support us and contribute to the way he did tonight,” Vigneault said.