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Flyers fall to Devils, lose Brian Elliott to injury

The Flyers lost a game Thursday to New Jersey, 3-0, and a goalie as Brian Elliott was injured late in the defeat.

Flyers goalie Brian Elliott leaves the game in the third period of the team's loss to the Devils on Thursday.
Flyers goalie Brian Elliott leaves the game in the third period of the team's loss to the Devils on Thursday.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

Brian Elliott, the veteran goaltender who has been arguably the Flyers' best player during the last few weeks, left Thursday's 3-0 loss to New Jersey after suffering an injury trying to stop Kyle Palmieri's wraparound goal with 6 minutes, 8 seconds remaining.

Elliott, known as "Moose" around the locker room, went post-to-post in an attempt to make the stop and appeared to injure his groin. His status will be updated Friday.

No, James van Riemsdyk's much-anticipated return did not go as the Flyers had hoped.

In addition to losing Elliott, van Riemsdyk, who missed the previous 16 games with a knee injury, didn't jump-start the struggling power play, and he interfered with New Jersey's goalie to erase a first-period Flyers goal at the sparsely filled Wells Fargo Center.

Joey Anderson's first NHL goal and Keith Kinkaid's  strong goaltending helped the Devils (8-8-1) win their second straight.

Kinkaid (29 saves) was also fortunate. The Flyers hit iron five times, including a post shot by Oskar Lindblom with the Devils holding a 1-0 lead midway through the third period.

"Sometimes, they just don't go in," center Scott Laughton said.

"I've never seen that," center Sean Couturier said of so many iron shots.

The Flyers (9-9-1) were 0 for 4 on the power play, making them 2 for 32 over their last 11 games.

The Devils, who handed the Flyers their third shutout in 19 games, iced the win on Blake Coleman's empty-net goal.

If Elliott is sidelined for a long time, it could be devastating. His backup, Cal Pickard, has played well recently, but he took a 4.42 goals-against average and .865 save percentage into his relief appearance Thursday. He has appeared in just 94 NHL games.

"We just need guys to step up," Laughton said. "I thought Picks came in and made a big save. That's what we're going to need. I thought Moose was our best penalty-killer tonight."

Pickard, 26, who had a strong year in the AHL last season, said he's ready for the challenge if Elliott is out for a while. Elliott had core-muscle surgery in February and hip surgery in the off-season, and his latest injury may be related.

"I'm confident," said Pickard, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto on Oct. 2 and has a 3-1-1 record with the Flyers. "I had a couple good starts last week…I just have to have a good sleep tonight, wake up tomorrow and get back to work."

In addition to Elliott, the Flyers will give an update Friday on injured goalie Michal Neuvirth.

After the Flyers' unluckiest period of the season – they hit the post or crossbar four times in the opening 20 minutes, and had a power-play goal by Shayne Gostisbehere erased because van Riemsdyk interfered with Kinkaid – Dave Hakstol's team tried to regroup.

Kinkaid made it difficult.

New Jersey had taken a 1-0 lead after converting a Nolan Patrick turnover into the game's first goal, Anderson's one-timer from the high slot that went through the legs of both defenseman Christian Folin and Elliott. It was the first NHL goal for Anderson, 20, who helped the University of Minnesota-Duluth win the NCAA championship in 2017-18 and was playing in his eighth NHL game Thursday.

The Flyers did everything but score in the first period. Even when they did score it didn't count because van Riemsdyk bumped into Kinkaid's glove and mask just before Gostisbehere's point drive went into the net.

Travis Sanheim, Laughton, Patrick, and Travis Konecny all whipped Flyers shots off iron in the first period.

Like Kinkaid, Elliott was also sharp. Again. He robbed Pavel Zacha in close and denied Jesper Bratt's rebound in the second. With 2:36 left in the session, Elliott made perhaps his best save of the night, stopping an all-alone Marcus Johansson from the doorstep.

New Jersey, which dropped a 5-2 decision to the Flyers last month, played without injured centers Nico Hischier and Brian Boyle.

As for van Riemsdyk, he said he felt a bit rusty in his first game since Oct. 6.

"If you're out for six weeks, especially at the start of the season when you've been off already for three or four months, you're definitely not as sharp as you'd like to be," he said. "….I'm sure I'll be fine; it's just one of those things that's a work in progress."

The Flyers are 2-2 on their season-high, five-game homestand, which ends with a Saturday matinee against Tampa Bay. The Lightning will be without star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is sidelined with what is believed to be a fractured left foot.

And now it appears the Flyers will also be without their No. 1 goaltender.