It is with a heavy heart that we look back at the beginning of what was to become a very interesting and exciting hockey season in Newark. I say with a “heavy heart” because it now appears that a full 2012-13 NHL season is a long shot at this point.
The season began on a sour note with the Devils dropping their first game at the Rock 3-0, on goals by Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds. The loss was the second home opener loss in a row to Philadelphia, after going 12-0-6 in their previous 18.
Newly acquired goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov improved to 2-0 for the Flyers, making 20 saves for his first shutout in an Orange sweater.
The Flyers jumped ahead 1-0 at 12:05 of the first period when the Devils got caught running around in their own end. James VanRiemsdyk found Giroux with a perfect pass from behind the net. Giroux, left all alone in front blasted a one timer past Martin Brodeur’s stick to give Philadelphia the only goal they would need on the night.
The Flyers controlled the majority of the game, while the Devils appeared out of sorts. The Flyers dealt New Jersey a death blow at 2:41 of the third, after a bad pass from Andy Greene to Ilya Kovalchuk sent Philly on the odd man rush. The result was rookie Matt Read’s first NHL goal.
Minutes later after a penalty to Patrik Elias expired, Simmonds picked up his first goal as a Flyer, banging home Chris Pronger’s rebound at 4:50 to give the Flyers a big 3-0 lead. Yes, Chris Pronger. That’s how long ago this game was.
The Devils racked up 49 minutes in penalties lead by David Clarkson’s 21. (It’s funny looking back and thinking how bad Clarkson was, only for him to go on and have career year by scoring 30 goals.) Philly went 0 for 6 on the power play, but the they might as well have gone 6 for 6. The game had no business being close in the third.
Brodeur made 26 saves in the loss, many of them very good stops. Kovalchuk and Nick Palmieri both finished a minus 3.
The loss was disheartening but turned out to just be an afterthought on the schedule. The rest, as they say, is history. The Devils would go on the win their next three games in a row, get better as the season progressed, qualify for the playoffs and go on to annihilate the Flyers in five games during the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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