NEWARK, N.J. – The new-look Philadelphia Flyers have started the season with a pair of solid victories on the road.
They hope the momentum continues Wednesday for the home opener against the Vancouver Canucks.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the former all-star brought to Philadelphia to cure one of the league’s shakiest goaltending situations, made 20 saves as the Flyers spoiled New Jersey Devils season opener with a 3-0 victory on Saturday night.
The Flyers launched the season on Thursday with a 2-1 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins in Boston. Philadelphia improved to 2-0 with the victory at the Prudential Center.
“I can’t say enough about the whole team work ethic,” Bryzgalov said. “Everybody’s doing their part. It’s been amazing.”
Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds provided the goals to support Bryzgalov, among the Flyers’ major off-season signings. It was his 24th career shutout and improved his record against New Jersey to 2-1-0.
The Flyers win spoiled Peter DeBoer’s debut as Devils coach.
“Obviously, it’s not the way you drew it up,” DeBoer said. “It looked to me like we were at practice speed and they were at NHL game speed. Our reaction time never caught up to where there’s was tonight.”
Martin Brodeur made 26 saves as one of the lone bright spots for New Jersey.
Giroux, scoring for the second time in as many games, gave the Flyers the lead at 12:05 of the first period with a shot from the right hash mark following a backhand pass by James van Riemsdyk from the corner.
The Flyers almost got a second goal in the closing seconds of the period when Andreas Nodl had a short-handed breakaway, only be denied by Brodeur’s glove save.
Philadelphia continued to have the better chances in the scoreless second period. Brodeur made a pad save on Sean Couturier to deny a 2-on-0 break, and later came up big on a close-in bid by van Riemsdyk.
The Devils generated pressure in the closing seconds as Petr Sykora put a sharp-angled shot on Bryzgalov.
Read got his first NHL goal at 2:41 of the third to put the Flyers up 2-0. Taking a centring feed from Scott Hartnell, Read beat fired a shot from the slot that glanced off Brodeur’s shoulder on it’s way into the net.
“There’s definitely a lot of new faces in this locker room, and I’m one of them,” Read said. “Sometimes, it can get you nervous. But there are so many guys in here, who have done it, and they can make you relax and just have fun.”
Only six seconds later, Patrik Elias was whistled for tripping and Devils managed to kill off the penalty.
By then the momentum had swung decisively in the Flyers favour. Simmonds fought his way to the crease to poke a shot past Brodeur at 4:50, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead.
Then it became a matter of preserving Bryzgalov’s first shutout as a Flyer.
“Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes, you have to work extra hard,” Bryzgalov said. “Tonight, the Devils had some good chances, for sure.”
Bryzgalov is just one of a number of new Flyers looking forward to their home-ice debuts on Wednesday.
“Can’t wait,” said Jaromir Jagr, who signed with Philadelphia after three seasons in the KHL. “It’s very good to go back home with two wins, with the team playing well. Good team coming in to play us, and it should be fun.”
While the Flyers relish their fast start, the Devils know they have to play better avoid a repeat of last year’s slow start that doomed their playoff chances.
“We played a really good team,” said Zach Parise following his first game as Devils captain. “That’s going to be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. We’re going to have to elevate our game. They have a really good defence. With us not generating much, we sometimes helped them. We turned pucks over. We have to have a little more patience. You could definitely tell they had played one game and we hadn’t.”
NOTES: Brodeur made a 17th straight opening-night start for the Devils. … The New Jersey scratches were D Mark Fraser, C Rod Pelley and RW Cam Janssen…The Philadelphia scratches were D Matt Walker and LW Jody Shelley. … Philadelphia was 0-for-8 on the power play; the Devils went 0-for-5.