After his team took a pair of punches to the stomach in Boston, Alain Vigneault said the Flyers would get up (and clean themselves up) when they traveled to New Jersey.
“We really believe we can be better than what we’ve played so far,” Vigneault said on Monday, “and we will be”.
The Flyers were better for their head coach on Tuesday night with a 5-3 victory over the Devils at the Prudential Center.
For the first time this season, the Flyers (4-2-1) beat their opponent with a 31-26 lead over the Devils (3-2-1).
James van Riemsdyk got things going with two goals, while Nolan Patrick, Joel Farabee and Ivan Provorov (empty net) also had scorers. Claude Giroux set a franchise record and was everywhere on the ice.
The Flyers relinquished a 2-0 lead in the second period but were never left behind. They showed some determination.
• The Flyers’ biggest draw to van Riemsdyk when the club brought him back in July 2018 was his propensity to wreak havoc in goal with all kinds of strategy, especially on the power play.
Last season, van Riemsdyk failed to deliver the power play production the Flyers were hoping for as he only scored four goals. It was his smallest total since 2011-12, when he played just 43 games in his last season with the Flyers before being traded to the Maple Leafs.
To start the 2020-21 season, van Riemsdyk looks like a vintage JVR. He scored a pair of power play goals Tuesday night on redirects to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Van Riemsdyk has already equaled his men’s point advantage from last season.
2019-20 – four games in 66
2020-2021 – four games in seven
Van Riemsdyk (five goals, two assists) was a point per game player in seven games. The Flyers are awfully good at producing. Since van Riemsdyk’s return in the summer of 2018, the Flyers are 42-13-5 as he registers at least one point.
• Giroux, who has six assists in seven games, made a dirty play to score Patrick’s goal at 7:03 in the last stanza, giving the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t give up.
• Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t play a perfect game on his debut in the season, but he was good and efficient with his legs, which the Flyers wanted to see from the 27-year-old.
He played 21:57 minutes and was on first pair with Provorov, who finished with a three-point game (one goal, two assists).
• In his 432nd career start, Brian Elliott was hired again for the Flyers making 23 saves. He had a 40-save shutout on his first start.
New Jersey did not have No. 1 goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who was sidelined due to COVID protocol. Scott Wedgewood made his 24th career start and converted 26 saves.
• After allowing seven goals in the third period in two games against the Bruins, the Flyers have only allowed the Devils one. When it happened, they were already in control with a three-goal lead.
• Jack Hughes was held aimlessly. The top pick in the 2019 overall standings had seven points in the game.
• Farabee had gone scoreless from his four-point performance in the season opener until he scored a huge insurance goal in the third period.
The 20-year-old winger extended the Flyers’ lead to 4-2. Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton forced a roll on the front axle. Timely work from this line which is critical to the Flyers’ secondary scoring.
• Giroux set a franchise record passing club icon and Hockey Hall of Fame member Bob Clarke for most games played as captain of the Flyers with his 611th Tuesday night.
“It’s very special,” Giroux said on Monday. “Clarkie is obviously one of the best, probably the best player who has ever played in this organization. He was great for me, at the start of my career he helped me a lot. It feels good.”
Speaking of milestones, Jakub Voracek notched his 400th career assist with the Flyers on van Riemsdyk’s opening goal. Voracek is fifth on the club’s all-time assists list.
• The Flyers return home after the game but return to Newark, New Jersey on Thursday for a second encounter with the Devils (7 p.m. ET / NBCSP).
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