NEWARK, N.J. – Jaromir Jagr’s injury forced the Philadelphia Flyers to adjust their power play.
It worked just fine without him.
Jagr left in the first period of the Flyers’ 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, and didn’t return. Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette made some changes to the power play, that was facing the NHL’s best penalty-killers.
Scott Hartnell scored two power-play goals—one in the second period and another in the third—and carried the Flyers to the win.
“We ran (Hartnell) back out there, and the team responded,” Laviolette said. “We needed to get goals there, and Scott was able to get through some traffic.”
It was the first time this season the Devils allowed two power-play goals in a home game.
“They do a good job of killing penalties,” said Hartnell, who has a team-leading 22 goals. “They weren’t letting us get into the zone, but we kept at it and then the shots opened up. We had to work hard to get our chances.
“There are some times when the power play isn’t clicking and then other times it is. We were lucky to get two on this team.”
Wayne Simmonds had a goal and two assists for the first three-point game of his NHL career. Simmonds was the best player on the ice Saturday, dominating on both ends.
“He’s been terrific,” Laviolette said of Simmonds, who scored his 13th goal on an empty-net backhander with 2:22 left. “Offensively, defensively, you name it. He was a physical presence in the game. He kept moving his feet and the puck ended up on his stick.”
The Flyers (28-14-4) remained four points behind the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers. The Devils (26-19-2) lost for the second straight time in the middle of a six-game homestand.
Hartnell’s first goal came off a deflection, and his second was scored with a one-timer that eluded goalie Martin Brodeur.
Simmonds assisted on Hartnell’s first goal and on Matt Read’s second-period. Read leads NHL rookies with 15 goals.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves to earn his 18th win of the season. Brodeur finished with 14 saves.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, in his Devils debut, scored New Jersey’s lone goal. Ponikarovsky was acquired Friday in a trade with Carolina.
“It was good to make an impact right away with my new teammates, but unfortunately, we didn’t get a win,” said Ponikarovsky, who arrived in New Jersey late Friday night. “The goal gave us momentum for a little while, but then it got away from us in the third period. Everything happened so fast, me coming here, but I’m glad for it and I want to continue to help.
“If we got the win, I’d be in a better mood.”
The Devils had a chance to break through on the first power play of the afternoon, but the advantage was cut short after 35 seconds later when David Clarkson was whistled for interference.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. Simmonds dug the puck out from the boards and stayed with the play behind the net. Simmonds found Read in front with a pass, and Read slapped the puck past Brodeur at 9:30.
“He’s amazing to watch,” Hartnell said of Simmonds. “He works hard all the time and now he gets rewarded for his hard work. He does all the stuff that no one else wants to.”
Philadelphia made it 2-0 on Hartnell’s power-play goal. Just 10 seconds after Devils rookie defenceman Adam Larsson was sent off for interference, Kimmo Timonen sent a shot from the point that Hartnell deflected in.
Just 32 seconds later, the Devils finally got to Bryzgalov. Ponikarovsky got his stick on Matt Taormina’s shot and tipped it past Bryzgalov to get New Jersey within 2-1.
Brodeur denied Simmonds with a great save early in the third period, but the Flyers scored twice to put the game away.
Hartnell made it 3-1 at 8:07 with his second power-play goal.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer pulled Brodeur for an extra skater with 2:30 left, but Simmonds foiled the plan with an empty-net goal.
NOTES: Jagr left the game because of an undisclosed lower body injury and didn’t return. … Ponikarovsky had seven goals and eight assists in 49 games with the Hurricanes. The Devils sent struggling RW Mattias Tedenby to Albany of the AHL to make room on the roster. … New Jersey has three games left on its homestand that continues after the All-Star break. … Read and New Jersey’s Adam Henrique, who has 13 goals, were rookie selections for All-Star weekend.