PHILADELPHIA – Some thought the “look-past’’ game would come in Detroit on Monday night when the Flyers visited the 12-38-4 Red Wings.
The Flyers were fortunate to come away with a 3-0 win in that game.
Instead, the “oh, it’s only the Devils’’ contest arrived a few nights later when 18-24-10 New Jersey came to town.
The Flyers hardly looked like a team which had gone 2-0-1 since the bye week/NHL All-Star break in Thursday night’s confrontation at the Wells Fargo Center.
New Jersey jumped on the Flyers early –- 13 seconds to be exact – with a Blake Coleman goal and never looked back, handing the Flyers a rather embarrassing 5-0 loss. It was their largest margin of defeat at the WFC this season.
The Flyers missed a chance to gain ground on idle Columbus in the standings.
Misleading stat of the night: The Flyers had a whopping 46 shots on N.J. goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood, who handled everything thrown his way. The team record for futility is 48 shots and no goals.
After the game, a few Flyers were asked if the team did overlook the last-place Devils.
“I didn’t,’’ said goaltender Brian Elliott, who was left out to dry on a number of occasions. “Like I said, every point matters. You can’t look past anybody. This team (the Devils) has been playing well lately, putting up a lot of goals.
“We definitely didn’t look past it. (We were) a little disjointed and that led to a couple breaks for them.’’
Claude Giroux said there are going to be nights like this in any season.
“It happens,’’ he said. “It happens to every team. Obviously you don’t want it to happen too often. We were playing some good hockey (before this game) and tonight wasn’t the case.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault thought his team was ready for the Devils but the product on the ice didn’t show it.
“They made us pay for our mistakes,’’ Vigneault said. “I know the score indicates that (the Flyers overlooked N.J.). I do believe our players were ready.
“In an 82-game schedule, there are no excuses. But some nights you’re going to get games like this. We had a bad one tonight.
Several top-line scorers continued to struggle for the Flyers.
Giroux’s goal drought reached 13 games and Sean Couturier’s eight. Even team co-leader Travis Konecny (17 goals) has failed to score in his last five games.
Coleman scored before many fans had even sat down. He took a pass from Travis Zajac from deep in the zone and beat Elliott with a short shot.
The Flyers managed only one shot in the first seven and a half minutes. They looked out of sync for much of the first 20 minutes.
In the second period, the Flyers applied more pressure on goalie Mackenzie Blackwood but still couldn’t break through despite outshooting the Devils, 15-5.
New Jersey made it 2-0 at 1:39 on a power play. With Kevin Hayes off, Damon Severson rushed down the right side and launched what appeared to be a rather harmless shot from the right dot. The puck eluded Elliott, however, and the Devils had a substantial lead.
The Flyers had several decent chances but couldn’t finish them. At 10:50, Jake Voracek had a loose puck just inches off his stick at the right post. But the puck bounced off the metal upright and slid away.
At that point, the outcome was pretty much decided.
“It’s always tough to play against them,’’ Voracek said. “We knew it was going to be tough. Sometimes you’re going to have a game like that. It’s a bad one to take. Everybody expected us to win, we expected to win, bad loss.’’
Matt Niskanen confirmed the Flyers weren’t as sharp as they have been in recent games.
“We didn’t have our best stuff, so it was an uphill climb,’’ he said. “The style they played tonight was like the Devils of old (neutral-zone trap). . .clog up the middle of the ice and fed off of our turnovers.’’
In the third, the Devils put the game away by getting a shorthanded goal from Pavel Zacha at the 1:10 mark. Zacha finished off a two-on-one rush. New Jersey made it 4-0 at 4:23 on a breakaway goal from Miles Wood. That was all for Elliott, who was relieved by Alex Lyon at that point. Wood scored again at 11:16 with a shot past Lyon.
The Flyers know that every point is valuable at this juncture in the season and there was a feeling that they let one get away.
Giroux acknowledges it could take 100 points just to secure a wild card spot.
“Every team that gets in (to the playoffs) is going to play good hockey from now on,’’ Giroux said. “For us, we try not to look at it too much – we probably look at it two or three times a day to see if it’s changed much – but it’s always real tight.
“You look at the other team’s play. Everybody’s winning so we have to keep doing what we’re doing.’’
Just not what they were doing on Thursday night.
>Voracek reaches milestone
Voracek received a nice ovation in the second period when it was announced he was playing in his 900th NHL game. . .The loss was just the fifth for the Flyers at home this season (18-5-4). . .This was the first time the Flyers have been shut out at home by five or more goals since a 7-0 defeat by Washington on Nov. 1, 2013. It’s only the 37th time in 4,100 games they’ve been shut out by five or more goals and just the 16th time on home ice.