The Philadelphia Flyers' 2011-12 season ended with four consecutive playoff defeats to the New Jersey Devils. The losing ways - and lack of scoring that plagued them in that series - have carried into this season.
The Flyers look to end both trends when they visit New Jersey on Tuesday night in the teams' first meeting since their second-round playoff matchup.
Philadelphia has managed three goals in falling to Pittsburgh and Buffalo to open the season. The Flyers were outscored 3-0 in the third period of a 5-2 defeat to the Sabres on Sunday, getting outshot 41-29, and also had two goals disallowed.
"The bounces aren't going our way right now,'' said center Claude Giroux, who has scored once in each game. "It's not the start that we're looking for, two losses in a row. But we'll just have to fight through it and come back.''
The Flyers weren't able to do that in the postseason, managing seven goals in dropping the final four games to the Devils after knocking off the Penguins in the first round.
Along with the lack of scoring, Philadelphia's penalty killing is already a major concern. After allowing Pittsburgh to score twice on three power-play chances, the Flyers gave up three more on Buffalo's six opportunities.
"The penalty kill right now, we've got to continue to look at it and work at it,'' coach Peter Laviolette said. "Every day is a new opportunity. But we've got to get on track here and get a win in the column and get moving in the right direction.''
There's a good chance the Flyers will have to get that first victory on the road, as Sunday's contest began a stretch of six of seven away from home.
New Jersey got 2012-13 off to a good start with a 2-1 road victory over the Islanders on Saturday. David Clarkson's goal at 8:17 of the third period was the winner and Travis Zajac also scored.
"I thought we had a real good camp,'' said coach Pete DeBoer, who praised his team for arriving in condition after the lockout. "(That) probably allowed us to get two points tonight.''
Clarkson's goal was encouraging for the Devils, who lost 31-goal scorer Zach Parise to free agency in the offseason. Clarkson scored 30 last season and will be counted on to lift his game to help fill the offensive void.
"We're going to have to score by committee," DeBoer said. "They're going to be low-scoring games. We're going to have to take care of our own end. I liked the fact that we didn't give up more than 20 shots tonight. That's the kind of hockey we're going to have to play."
Martin Brodeur stopped 18 shots Saturday to increase his NHL wins record to 657, but he hasn't posted many victories over the Flyers in the regular season lately. Brodeur was solid in last season's playoff matchup, recording a 2.05 goals-against average, but he's gone 3-10-2 with a 2.94 GAA in his last 15 regular-season starts versus Philadelphia.
The Flyers' Ilya Bryzgalov is 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA in five regular-season starts against the Devils, posting shutouts in two of the last three, but he's given up six goals this season.
Giroux had four goals and three assists as Philadelphia took the regular-season series with New Jersey 3-2-1. The Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk recorded 15 points in 10 total games against the Flyers in 2011-12.
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