PHILADELPHIA – As if an inability to score goals wasn’t bad enough, the Flyers now face the prospect of being without their best goalie for an indefinite period of time.
Brian Elliott, who’s been at his finest in recent games, had to leave the ice after the New Jersey Devils scored their second goal at 13:52 of the third period in Thursday night’s 3-0 loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
Calvin Pickard finished up in place of Elliott, who is coming off an offseason hip operation and has already sat out five of the first 19 games this season.
Neither Elliott nor general manager Ron Hextall was made available for comment after the game.
Hextall issued a statement saying Elliott would be reevaluated on Friday.
The Flyers did hit five goal posts in this game and had a possible goal by Shayne Gostisbehere called back due to an incidental contact call on James van Riemsdyk.
As was the case Tuesday night against Florida (a 2-1 loss), the Flyers couldn’t find an offensive rhythm in getting blanked by N.J. goaltender Keith Kinkaid.
It’s been a case of hit and miss for the Flyers this season. They have 45 goals in their nine wins (5.0 average) and just 13 goals in their 10 losses (1.30 average).
That has to change if the Flyers are forced to use Pickard for an extended period of time.
“It (the loss to the Devils) was frustrating,’’ Claude Giroux said. “We pressured them pretty well. Their goalie made some big saves. The power play needs to get one (a goal – the Flyers are two for their last 32 with the man advantage).
“I’m not too sure what the status (of Elliott) is there or what happened. He’s been playing some good hockey for us lately.’’
Scott Laughton was one of the post-hitters.
“It stinks to hit that many posts,’’ he said. “Sometimes they just don’t go in.’’
The Devils jumped on top at 3:45 of the first when Joey Anderson’s shot found its way through a Christian Folin screen and past Elliott for a 1-0 lead.
The play was reminiscent of Florida’s second goal in Tuesday night’s game when Folin blocked Elliott’s vision.
Philadelphia couldn’t buy a break in the first period as four shots hit posts.
On the van Riemsdyk interference call, officials ruled that JVR banged into the glove of Kinkaid as Gostisbehere’s shot eluded the netminder.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol made an official challenge to the no-goal call but to no avail. Later he said he wasn’t really trying to challenge but got charged for one anyway.
Van Riemsdyk was puzzled by the ruling.
“The explanation they gave me was pretty funny,’’ he said. “He said I moved my upper body to get in the way of the goalie. I don’t even know what that means. I thought I was outside the crease. It’s a call that’s a gray area. . .some games maybe it goes our way, tonight it didn’t.
Kyle Palmieri registered a goal in the third period for N.J. Elliott appeared to injure himself on the play and was replaced by Pickard.
The Devils later added an empty-net goal.
Philadelphia suffered its third shutout loss of the season.
Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas was a late scratch due to illness. Andrew MacDonald, who sat out eight games, returned to the lineup.
The Flyers return to action on Saturday when they host the Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay Lightning in the finale of the current five-game homestand. . .The Devils entered the game with the NHL’s worst road record (1-7).