Devils-Flyers Preview

The Associated PressNovember 6, 2013

Just when the New Jersey Devils thought they might be turning around their season, the Philadelphia Flyers ruined their momentum over the weekend.

The Flyers also failed to build any following that matchup.

Scoring woes continue to plague these rivals who have fallen on hard times entering Thursday night's meeting in Philadelphia.

New Jersey (3-7-4) is tied for the fewest wins in the league but has one more point than the Flyers (4-9-1), who have the NHL's second-worst record after a 2-1 overtime loss at Carolina on Tuesday.

While Philadelphia ranks last with 1.57 goals per game and has scored two in its last 226-plus minutes, the Devils have gone more than 144 minutes without scoring. Those dreadful stretches include the Flyers' 1-0 victory in New Jersey on Saturday, when Brayden Schenn scored in the first period and the Devils managed only 14 shots.

"I thought we finally had the patience to beat them in a game. That's basically what it boils down to," said coach Craig Berube, whose Flyers had been 0-8-1 in nine meetings with New Jersey dating to the 2012 playoffs.

The Devils had gone 3-1-1 in their previous five games after beginning the season with seven straight defeats. Things didn't get better Sunday, totaling 19 shots in a 4-0 loss at Minnesota.

"It's frustrating to a point, but you've just got to keep plugging away," center Stephen Gionta said. "Everything's not going to go your way and you have to just keep fighting through it."

Maybe three days off will help New Jersey, though it's unclear if forwards Patrik Elias (upper body) or Travis Zajac (right ankle) will return after missing the past two games. It's also uncertain whether Jon Merrill will play after a rough NHL debut Sunday, when he was helped off the ice after being tripped into the boards and suffering facial lacerations.

Injuries can only be partly to blame for New Jersey's offensive woes. Coach Peter DeBoer's club is averaging 1.86 goals and has been shut out a league-high eight times since the beginning of April, including four this season.

While the Devils have lost eight of nine on the road, the Flyers have dropped six of eight at home while totaling 11 goals.

Captain Claude Giroux, whose breakdown in coverage led to the tying goal with 52.3 seconds left in regulation Tuesday, has gone 20 games without a goal. Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds combined for 37 goals last season but each has one through 14 games. Scott Hartnell, who had a team-best 37 goals in 2011-12, got his first point of the season with a power-play goal Tuesday.

Steve Mason made a season-high 36 saves, and he's yet to allow more than three goals in any game but is 3-7-1.

"Wins are hard to come by right now," Mason said. "I just have to stay in a positive mindset and keep coming and working hard."

While Mason has lost all three career starts versus the Devils with a 3.68 goals-against average, backup Ray Emery is 6-3-2 against them with a 1.90 GAA after winning Saturday.

Emery bested Martin Brodeur, who lost for the first time in eight starts against the Flyers - including playoffs - and has a 1.33 GAA in that span. Brodeur started for Cory Schneider, who missed three games with a sore groin before returning Saturday to make 16 saves.