ECSF Game 1 Recap: Some OT and some controversy; Devils drop Game 1

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2, New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

Three stars of the game:

3rd star: Zach Parise (Goal, assist)

2nd star: James van Riemsdyk (Goal)

1st star: Danny Briere (2 goals)

The Devils were fresh off their dramatic Game 7 double-overtime win late Thursday night (and into Friday morning) while the Flyers had about a week off since knocking off the Penguins in their first round series.  The long layoff for the Flyers initially worked against them, as the Devils got off to a tremendous start.  They dominated the Flyers for much of the opening period, and were outshooting them, 11-0 at one point in the period.  It took all of 3:16 to open the scoring.  Flyers rookie Matt Read coughed the puck up to Patrik Elias behind the Flyers’ net and Elias centered to Zach Parise, and Parise beat Ilya Bryzgalov between the pads.  Bryzgalov, however, made strong saves on Patrik Elias’ quick shot from the slot, a chance by Travis Zajac and a shot by Petr Sykora on the newly formed third line.  The Devils failed on their only power play of the period, although it did generate four shots on goal.  They outshot Philly, 15-6 in the first period, but were unable to score a second goal.  Another bright spot for the Devils in the first period was that they killed off both Flyers’ power plays after struggling in the first round against Florida.

As expected, the Flyers came out and played much better in the second period.  For the first half of the period, the Devils were able to contain Philly’s push.  The Devils did a great job of making it difficult for the Flyers to enter the offensive zone and cycle behind the net.  Martin Brodeur also made a strong glove save on Max Talbot’s one-timer from in tight early in the period.  Eventually, though, the Devils became sloppier and started playing a much less tactical game.  They played like a fatigued and banged up hockey team for the second half of the game.  The Flyers’ tying goal came 8 minutes into the second period.  Peter Harrold made an ill-advised pinch in to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but it would have been fine if not for Ilya Kovalchuk slinging the puck to the net, but missing wide.  Nobody was covering Danny Briere, so Jakub Voracek fed him on a breakaway, and Briere beat Martin Brodeur.  The Devils unraveled after that goal.

Just 37 seconds later, Philly struck again.  This time, Martin Broduer tried to do too much with the puck, as he tried to start a rush by throwing the puck up the ice.  Erik Gustafsson picked off Brodeur’s pass attempt and swung it to the net.  It rebounded perfectly for James van Riemsdyk, who shot it high and into what was basically an empty net.  A little over a minute later, Eric Wellwood tripped Zach Parise, so the Devils had a power play.  Seconds after the Devils failed on the power play, Patrik Elias took a penalty of his own, but Adam Henrique sprung himself on a shorthanded breakaway, and drew a questionable hooking penalty.  It looked as if Henrique simply mis-handled the puck as he tried to backhand it over Bryzgalov.  That led to Ilya Kovalchuk dumping the puck in, and Bryzgalov missing the puck behind his net, and Zach Parise fed Travis Zajac in the slot, and Zajac got just enough of it to beat Bryzgalov to tie the game.

The Devils survived the Flyers’ second period attack, but in the third period, the Flyers took over.  They controlled the puck and kept the Devils stuck in their defensive zone for a majority of the third period.  The Devils tired themselves out as they chased the Flyers around in their own end.  Then Andy Greene took a penalty, putting the Flyers back on a power play.  Philly didn’t waste much time, as Claude Giroux finished a tic-tac-toe play and slapped one through Brodeur at 4:19 of the third.  The Devils were able to survive a Petr Sykora penalty later in the period, and tied the game shortly after.  Sykora skated down the left side, faking a slapshot from the left circle and then beating Bryzgalov five-hole to tie it up, 3-3.  Despite an offensive onslaught by the Flyers for the rest of the third period, the 3-3 score held into overtime.

The Devils won Games 6 and 7 against Florida in overtime, making it the first time in franchise history that three straight playoff games went to overtime.  This game, however, was a continuation of the third period, as the Flyers wore out the fatigued Devils.  Thirty seconds into overtime, Marek Zidlicky shot the puck out of play, which cost him a minor penalty.  Brodeur made a spectacular pad save on Scott Hartnell twelve seconds later, but then Briere appeared to have scored the winning goal moments later.  Upon review, Briere blatantly kicked the puck in, and the goal was washed out.  Shortly after that, Briere scored again on a slapshot from high in the slot.  This time, the goal counted, despite further controversy, at least according to Martin Brodeur.  Marty felt that van Riemsdyk came across and bumped the goalie stick about a second before the puck passed Brodeur.  There was no on-ice review and the Flyers won the game, 4-3.

This was a game that the Devils were in a position to steal from the Flyers.  The Devils had played two long and emotional games at the end of the Florida series while the Flyers relaxed and enjoyed nearly a week off.  The Flyers were a bit “rusty” at the beginning of the game, but they took it over and the Devils wore out later in the game.  In my opinion, the Devils can live with this loss.  If they bounce back and win Game 2, splitting the games in Philadelphia is not a bad thing at all.  Still, they could have built a more substantial lead early in the game before Philly did get into it.  Their inability to score a second goal and their eventual sloppiness and undisciplined penalties cost them the game.  The Flyers wore the Devils out and won the game.  The Devils will try to even the series on Tuesday night.

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Posted on April 29, 2012, in Game Recap, New Jersey Devils, NHL and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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