Flyers' playoff chances almost gone after 3-0 loss to Devils

The Flyers' Claude Giroux is caught between two Devilsin a first-period scrum.
The Flyers' Claude Giroux is caught between two Devilsin a first-period scrum. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 20, 2013

There were lots of empty seats at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, and few good scoring chances for the Flyers or New Jersey Devils.

Welcome to late-season hockey for two teams on the verge of being eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Flyers continued a recent trend: Another team ended a long losing streak against them.

New Jersey snapped a 10-game skid as Martin Brodeur notched his 121st career shutout to defeat the Flyers, 3-0.

Brodeur, who has more shutouts than any goalie in NHL history, had gone 10 straight games (0-6-4) without a win. He has two shutouts this year, both against the Flyers.

Brodeur (23 saves) has 11 career shutouts against the Flyers, his most against any team.

Keeping with that theme, Winnipeg and Ottawa recently ended five-game losing streaks against the Flyers.

The loss, coupled with the New York Rangers' 6-1 win over Florida, put the Flyers on the brink of elimination from playoff contention.

The Rangers need just one win in their last five games to eliminate the Flyers - even if Philadelphia wins its final four games.

In other words, the Flyers are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in the last 18 seasons - and just the ninth time since the franchise started in 1967-68.

"It's frustrating the way we played this game," captain Claude Giroux said. "They won more battles than us."

Since Game 2 of last year's playoff series, the Flyers are 1-8 against the Devils and they have been outscored by 32-14 in those games.

New Jersey, blanked in its previous two games, broke a 146-minute, 31-second scoring drought as Ryan Carter beat Ilya Bryzgalov from the left circle early in the second period to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. Carter's shot deflected off the top of Bryzgalov's stick and into the net on the short side.

A poor pass by Simon Gagne led to the breakout that produced the goal, which was scored after Matt Read blew a two-on-one opportunity at the other end.

Jake Voracek scored with 10:56 left in the second period, but the goal was erased when the video replay showed he had kicked the puck into the net.

"The second and third period, they totally took over the game," winger Scott Hartnell said. "It was almost like men playing with kids."

Giroux had a great chance as he went in on a two-on-one with a little over nine minutes left in the third period, but he waited a split second before his right-circle shot was smothered by Brodeur.

With 5:50 left, Matt D'Agostini made it 2-0 when he scored on a breakaway, causing Bryzgalov to slam his stick and shatter it against the post.

Bryzglaov played well, making 28 saves. New Jersey added an empty-net goal to finish the scoring.

It was somewhat surprising that Bryzgalov got the start because Steve Mason was coming off a dazzling, 38-save performance in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Rangers.

"Both of our goaltenders have played really well lately, I think," coach Peter Laviolette said before the game.

In four games (three starts) with the Flyers, Mason has a 1.82 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.

"Every goalie wants to play every game, but this is a great opportunity for me to work on some things with Reeser," Mason said, referring to goalie coach Jeff Reese. "Every day, I'm just excited to be here."

After winning the rookie-of-the-year award in 2008-09, Mason struggled in the last four seasons with Columbus before being traded to the Flyers on April 3. In a small sample, he has looked rejuvenated after making some adjustments with Reese.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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