Shock. That was the first emotion that came to Philadelphia Flyers fans as they watched their team fall 4-2 to the New Jersey Devils and go 3-1 down in their second-round playoff series.
The Flyers were completely out-played, and they have nobody to blame but themselves. Ilya Bryzgalov made 39 saves, playing a decent game, but the Flyers only attempted 22 shots on their part.
Philadelphia did jump out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a Scott Hartnell power-play goal and a Claude Giroux breakaway short-handed tally. It seemed as though the Flyers would be able to protect this lead, even as the Devils constantly took shots, due to air-tight play from Bryz and decent defensive rotation.
Petr Sykora, however, responded only two minutes later on a power play goal, and then Marek Zidlicky added one before the end of the first period to even things up at 2.
The Devils had dominated the fist period, out-shooting the Flyers 16-7 and looking faster as they moved the puck around in the offensive zone.
The second period was no different, with the Devils winning the shooting battle 16-5. New Jersey, however, could not break Bryz as he made save after save. Unfortunately, they finally broke through with Dainius Zubrus scoring 17:47 into the period. The game was 3-2 heading into the third.
On a side note, Claude Giroux went to the penalty box for a head shot on Zubrus late in the second, and could potentially face a one- or two-game suspension from the NHL.
The third period showed a listless Flyers team that didn’t even belong on the same rink as New Jersey. Hartnell looked foolish, the rookies looked inexperienced, and the team as a whole wasn’t as disciplined as Parise and the Devils. Zubrus added another tally, this time an empty-netter, in the last minute of the third period to ice the game.
The Devils scored 4 unanswered goals to finish the game. The Flyers are now staring at a 3-1 hole, and it will be very difficult to climb out of it. They’ll need more fore-checking, smarter defensive play, and more discipline if they want to save their season in Game 5.