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PREVIEW: Philadelphia Flyers look to rebound against resurgent Devils

Mar 22, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing Oskar Lindblom (23) celebrates his goal with teammates against the New York Islanders during the second period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In the unique 56-game NHL regular season, points are crucial every game. Especially on the second leg of a back-to-back.

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped a tough 2-1 overtime decision to the visiting New York Islanders on Monday. While they earned one point, two more will be up for grabs when the Flyers host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Philadelphia has lost three of four (1-2-1), and the Flyers scored just once Monday despite putting 37 shots on goal.

“Our guys want to win. They want to play well,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “They want to be responsible.”

The Flyers haven’t won consecutive games in more than three weeks and have sustained some maddening losses, including a 9-0 rout against the New York Rangers last week. The latest performance against the Islanders was much better in almost every way, but the Flyers appeared to run out of energy in overtime.

Now they’ll be playing again less than 24 hours later.

“It’s not easy, and we’ve got to stick together and keep battling,” said Flyers center Sean Couturier, who returned after missing the previous game with a hip flexor injury. “In the games we’re playing good, we’re finding ways to lose.”

Goaltender Carter Hart is expected to start against the Devils after Brian Elliott stopped 18 of 20 shots against the Islanders.

No matter who is in the starting lineup, the Flyers must put together a complete effort in all aspects. That has been a struggle in recent games.

“We’re gonna control what we can control and get ready for another tough game,” Vigneault said.

The Devils look to maintain their positive momentum with a second consecutive victory. In their most recent game, they won a thrilling 2-1 battle in overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Jesper Bratt notched the game-winner at 2:50 of the extra period — his first career overtime winner.

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The Devils, who have struggled for long stretches this season, have now won three of four. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves against Pittsburgh, including several stellar stops in the third period.

“Mackenzie came up huge for us and had some big saves,” Bratt said. “I think we played harder as a group. We wanted to compete and we wanted to win.”

The Devils fell behind 1-0 but rallied for the victory. Earlier this season, an early deficit probably would have led to a loss.

“It was disappointing to have that first goal in, but I thought our response was really good,” New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said. “We stuck with it, and we got rewarded by the end of the game.”

Even with their recent turnaround, the Devils are finding consistent goal-scoring to still be a challenge. There has been quite a bit of bad luck mixed in, too, as they clanged a shot off the post or crossbar three times through the first two periods against the Penguins.

“I was a little frustrated that we hit posts,” Ruff said. “We hit crossbars, we hit a post right off the start on the first shift. Even on the shift we scored, it looked like we weren’t going to score, but eventually we did. It’s still kind of bothering us, putting pucks in the back of the net when we’re having good outings.”

–Field Level Media