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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Jack Hughes Costly Turnovers Down Devils 3-2 in Overtime to Flyers

Jack Hughes commits two costly turnovers, one of which resulted in the game-winning goal.

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New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

Newark — Tuesday night’s tilt between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers was an important one.

The Devils lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday and although it was the second leg of a back-to-back, it felt like they left points on the table. With the Flyers playing as well as they are and sitting ahead of New Jersey in the standings, a two-point game becomes a four-point game on these kinds of nights.

In their last outing, the Devils defeated the Flyers in overtime on the stick of Luke Hughes. The tables were turned on Tuesday however, after Owen Tippet stuck for Philly this time.

Let’s dive into tonight’s Devils’ 3-2 loss to the Flyers.

Devils Recap

The Devils and Flyers ground out the first ten minutes with some back-and-forth play. It wasn’t until 14:15 of the first period that there was a score. Michael McLeod on the back door tapped the rubber over the Flyers’ goal line to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. New Jersey started the second period flat and as a result, Ryan Poehling tied the game 1:10 into the second period. However, the Devils went to the power play soon after and Jesper Bratt helped regain New Jersey’s lead. Later, Poehling converted on an odd-man rush, tying things at two through two periods of play.

To overtime the game went and, unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way it did a few weeks ago. A turnover in the neutral zone ended up on Owen Tippett’s stick. With ice in front of him, Tippet skated the puck to the slot and bet Vitek Vanecek to secure the extra point for Philly. Vanecek turned in 23 saves in the 3-2 loss. Sam Ersson made 24 saves for the Flyers.

Takeaways

Grinding Tilt

You don’t typically think of the Devils as a grinding team. Perhaps deploying Erik Haula on the first line with Jack Hughes and Tyler Toffoli makes them play that way by default.

Following the first period of play, the Devils led the hit differential 10-9. Leading that pack was, in fact, Haula who threw four hits in the opening 20 minutes.

The grindest thing about the first period had to be the fourth line scoring the game’s first goal.

Curtis Lazar and Nathan Bastian won a puck battle in the Flyers’ end along the far wall. Bastian displayed silky mitts in moving the puck to the slot and feeding McLeod for the back door tap-in to give the Devils a 1-0 lead in the opening frame.

Giving Away the Game, Literally

The difference between John Tortorella’s team and Lindy Ruff’s team on Tuesday was one team was tight defensively and the other was too loose.

If history serves, that means Ruff’s group could have reeled it in on their side of the ice.

With a 1-0 lead in the second period, the Flyers made quick work of a loose Devils squad. Ryan Poehling intercepted a pass from Jack trying to start a breakout. In a nice give-and-go play for the Flyers, Joel Farabee returned the puck Poehling dropped to him and scored to tie the game at one. It was a less-than-ideal giveaway from Hughes.

Later, Brendan Smith challenged a loose puck and wound up pinching too high in the neutral zone. He pushed the puck up ice, but to the wrong team, and was caught out of position. As a result, Travis Sanheim sent the puck to New Jersey’s end of the ice where Travis Konecny and Poehling took advantage of an odd-man rush, and the latter scored his second of the game.

The most detrimental turnover came in overtime. It was Hughes, again, in overtime.

Jack was careless with the puck on the end of his stick in the neutral zone. He attempted to drop a pass to his brother, Luke, with Tippet on Jack’s tail. Tippet intercepted the pass, entered the zone alone, and bet Vanecek for the overtime winner. It was Jacks second costly turnover in the tilt.

By the end of 60-plus minutes, the Devils committed 17 giveaways, three of them directly resulting in all three goals for the Flyers.

Ruff will need a better defensive effort from his club.

Silver Lining?

There is a silver lining or two to this game. At this point, the Flyers can be considered a good team. Perhaps it’s 90% coaching. Tortorella might quite literally be willing the Flyers to wins. Regardless, outside of the turnovers, the Devils played a gritty Philly team well.

Starting with the power play, New Jersey has needed to be better in this area. In their last 10 games, the Devils have given up nine power-play goals. On Tuesday, the Devils went a perfect 3/3 while shorthanded. Granted, the Flyers power play isn’t very good. They entered Tuesday night ranked 30th in the NHL converting on 10.5% of man advantages. Regardless, the Devils needed to start somewhere in fixing their errors on the PK. The extra practice in this game helps.

Looking at even strength, the Devils also did well limiting the high-danger chances that weren’t curated on the turnovers.

Looking at MoneyPuck’s shot chart, it appears the Flyers were only able to put 10 of their 26 shots on goal from within or below the dots in the offensive zone. Ruff has been adamant that New Jersey needs to keep their opponents to mostly low-danger, perimeter chances, and for the most part, they did.

When asked if he felt the same, he answered, “Yes,” followed with, “It wasn’t that we were making high-risk plays. We just mishandled the puck.”

Quick Shifts

  • Michael McLeod won 16/18 faceoffs Tuesday night, winning 88.9% of draws.
  • Simon Nemec received the fourth-most ice time among Devils skaters, 21:14 minutes.
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