NEWARK, N.J. — Alex Lyon’s first NHL start was a memorable one, although right now it’s one he’d rather forget.
Devils rookie Nico Hischier scored the game-winner with 1:27 remaining in regulation to give the Devils a 4-3 victory over the Flyers on Thursday. Hischier redirected a pass that seeped through Lyon’s five-hole and across the line.
Lyon finished the night with 18 saves on 22 shots, as the Flyers failed to pick up a point when leading after two periods for the first time this season.
The Flyers and Devils combined for four power-play goals in the first period alone. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds connected for the Flyers, while Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford found the back of the net for New Jersey.
Shayne Gostisbehere hit double digits with his 10th goal that gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
This was the third matchup between the Metropolitan Division rivals in a span of just 17 days.
• Let’s start with the Radko Gudas interference call. If you watched him all the way down the ice, Gudas skated hard into the Devils’ zone and fired a shot on goal. Afterward, he was simply looking to get back to his right side spot on defense. I don’t think there was intent to plow over Palmieri. I believe Gudas saw him at the last second and made a last-ditch effort to protect himself. However, by leaving his feet, it certainly didn’t look good. Two minutes for interference was the right call.
• For Gudas, that was his first penalty of any kind dating all the way back to Nov. 16 when he was tossed from the game in Winnipeg for his vicious slash on Mathieu Perreault. If the league looks at this and hands down a suspension, it’s only because of reputation.
• Gudas also had a horrendous turnover in the defensive zone right on the stick of Blake Coleman in the second period. Considering the play of Brandon Manning in the game against the Capitals, I’m a little surprised Dave Hakstol elected to stick with this pairing again.
• The Flyers’ penalty kill has been the best tonic for any struggling power play. The Devils’ PP came into this game scoreless in its last 11 tries. However, it must feel like its clicking now after scoring on the first two attempts. The first goal was really bothersome for a couple of reasons: Why is Jori Lehtera still killing penalties? Lehtera was out there for the Devils’ first PP goal with Valtteri Filppula as they gave New Jersey all sorts of room to operate in the offensive zone. Lyon simply couldn’t move to the near post and reposition himself for Palmieri's shot. Outside of Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl, the Flyers are running out of dependable forwards on the PK.
• The second power-play goal was a shot Brian Elliott is so good at reading and stopping and probably one Lyon wishes he could have had back. Stafford was manning the high slot area when he was able to redirect the pass that slid through Lyon’s five-hole. Of course, the Flyers could have done a better job at defending the pass as well.
• Four first-period power-play goals. Giroux scored his 15th goal on a 5-on-3, an easy tap-in from the left side circle. Then Simmonds netted the game-tying goal later in the period. Simmonds did a solid job of knocking a New Jersey penalty killer off the puck from behind the net and keeping the play alive in the zone. That was a key as the Flyers worked around to Jakub Voracek, who created a low-angled shot that set up Simmonds’ rebound goal. I’m still not sure how he was able to switch over and wrist a backhand sandwiched between two defenders.
Second power play goal of the night 👌— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) February 2, 2018
Game is tied 2-2. pic.twitter.com/xuL1aH6VbJ
• Gostisbehere had a very silent night offensively in Washington as he failed to register a shot on net in over 24 minutes of ice time. “Ghost” more than made up for it against the Devils. He has had six shots on net and jumped in the play with the fourth line to score the go-ahead goal. New Jersey’s Coleman made no effort to play effective defense on this play.
• The Devils tied it up at 3-3 with nine minutes remaining in regulation on a play that started with the puck tied up along the boards. Once the Devils’ Pavel Zacha broke out of the pack with the puck, the Flyers were in scramble mode and lost coverage. Defenseman Damon Severson pinched in from his right defense position and Travis Konecny simply failed to pick him up in time.
• It was a rough opening 20 minutes for Lyon in his first NHL start, but he certainly wasn’t helped out by the guys in front of him. It was important for Lyon to come out in the second period and make some big saves early on. I liked how he skated to the top of his crease and cut down the angle on Mirco Mueller. Then midway through the second, Lyon challenged Jesper Bratt and cut down the angle. I thought it was important how the two power-play goals didn’t deter his confidence.
• There was a working man’s shift from the Nolan Patrick line that kept the puck in the Devils’ zone in the neighborhood of 45 to 50 seconds. That spread out the Devils’ defense and allowed firing from just about every angle. Hakstol looked smart for putting Patrick, Simmonds and Voracek together as the rookie is playing with more confidence. All three forwards are really strong on pucks.
• The Flyers took over a five-minute stretch late in the second period, as they outshot the Devils, 8-0, until they were forced to kill Konecny’s penalty. The penalty kill made a few adjustments after the first period to confuse the Devils with a 1-3 formation in the neutral zone and didn’t allow New Jersey to skate freely into the offensive zone with the puck.
Lineups, pairings and scratches
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Jakub Voracek-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Taylor Leier-Valtteri Filppula-Jori Lehtera
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
Scratches: Forwards Dale Weise (healthy) and Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy), and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).