NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 18th (All times Eastern)
New Jersey Devils (15-17-10) at Philadelphia Flyers (19-21-3), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers hope that they have one last run in them that can make their long shot playoff chances a reality.
The New Jersey Devils, one season removed from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, have to be wondering if they will win another game this season.
With slim but possible postseason hopes for both clubs, the Flyers look to deal the Devils a franchise-record 11th loss in a row in Thursday night's meeting in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia has won two straight following a four-game slide and sit 11th overall in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have five games left and sit five points back of the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
The Flyers kept their chances at a playoff spot alive with Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Rangers.
The Devils, meanwhile, are one point back of the Flyers but have six games left on their regular-season schedule. However, they haven't won since March 23 and are 0-6-4 since. That slide has coincided with the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk to a shoulder injury.
Kovalchuk was able to practice on Wednesday on a line with Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus, but head coach Peter DeBoer said that his winger will not travel to Philadelphia as he is not close enough to return. That could leave Kovalchuk ready to return on Saturday at home versus the Florida Panthers.
Without the winger, the Devils suffered their second straight 2-0 loss on Monday. Three days after getting blanked by the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey could not solve the Toronto Maple Leafs despite a healthy shot advantage. In fact, the Devils outshot their opponent 64-23 over the consecutive shutout losses.
Martin Brodeur, stuck on career win No. 666, only faced 12 shots versus the Maple Leafs and gave up the deciding goal with 6:32 left in regulation.
"I think we could have won our last six or seven games and I don't doubt that we can win six or seven in a row," DeBoer said. "We don't have to change a lot to do that other than to score a few goals."
New Jersey, which also lost a club-record 10 straight from Oct. 14-Nov. 4, 1983, fell to 5-8-8 on the road.
The Flyers, meanwhile, got a big lift from goaltender Steve Mason in the win over the Rangers. Making his home debut since being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mason made 38 saves in giving Ilya Bryzgalov the night off.
Mason turned aside all but one of the 17 shots he faced in the third period to win his first game as a Flyer.
"It was an important game for myself and the team," Mason said. "This was a must-win in terms of the playoff race with them being in the eighth playoff spot right now. That was a big win."
Kimmo Timonen tallied a goal and an assist, while Jakub Voracek scored his career-high 19th goal of the season. Brayden Schenn and Erik Gustafsson also scored.
The Devils won their first three meetings with the Flyers this season before Philadelphia notched a shootout victory at home on March 15 in the most recent encounter.
Though New Jersey has won eight of the last 12 meetings overall, Philadelphia has taken eight of the previous 11 at home.
04/18 10:57:01 ET