The Flyers, however, have kept right on rolling.
New Jersey has a tall task if it hopes to extend its unbeaten streak to six straight Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center, where Philadelphia looks to extend its lead atop the Eastern Conference with a fifth consecutive win - and seventh in a row at home against the Devils.
After a stretch of four wins in 20 games, the Devils have won four of five - with only an overtime loss to Florida last Saturday ruining a perfect stretch. Martin Brodeur(notes) made 23 saves Thursday night for his fourth shutout in a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh.
New Jersey still has the NHL’s lowest point total at 31 - 35 fewer than it had at this point last season - but Brodeur thinks his team is finally on the upswing.
“It has been a hard season,” said Brodeur, who has an NHL-record 114 regular-season shutouts. “Hopefully, we’ve turned the page and we’re moving on. I know I need to continue to work on the right things in my game to be able to play like that every night.”
Philadelphia is five points ahead of the Penguins in the Atlantic Division and has the most in the NHL. It’s a far cry from where the Flyers were through 47 games last season - their 49 points had them tied for 10th in the East.
They’ve won eight of nine this month, and got a big boost Thursday night against Ottawa. Chris Pronger(notes) played for the first time since breaking his right foot Dec. 15 against Montreal, chipping in two assists as Philadelphia extended its latest streak to four with a 6-2 victory.
“We’re playing with confidence right now, and confidence is a scary thing in the NHL when you have it,” said captain Mike Richards(notes), who had two assists and two goals - including one on the power play set up by Pronger.
The last thing an opponent wants to see is Richards finding the back of the net. The Flyers are 13-0 when he scores and 25-2-1 when he records a point.
The Devils haven’t seen Richards do much damage recently, as his goal and assist in a 5-3 home win Dec. 4 are his only points in the teams’ last six meetings.
Philadelphia has found plenty of other sources of offense in those wins, however. Briere and Jeff Carter(notes) have three goals and three assists, while James van Riemsdyk(notes) has a goal apiece in the last four home contests in the series.
Briere has five goals as the Flyers have gone 3-0-1 overall against the Devils this season.
Sergei Bobrovsky(notes) has started Philadelphia’s last two games, but it might make sense to give Brian Boucher(notes) the call Saturday - especially with a Stanley Cup finals rematch looming Sunday in Chicago. Boucher - who started both games against the Devils earlier this month - is 3-0-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average in his last four games versus New Jersey.
A win Saturday would make the Flyers the first expansion-era team to hit 1,000 at home.