Flyers fail to capitalize on opportunity, lose to Devils in 2024 Stadium Series

Flyers fail to capitalize on opportunity, lose to Devils in 2024 Stadium Series originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Not long after the fireworks shot into the night and the national anthem was played, the Flyers found themselves in a hole with 70,328 fans watching at frigid MetLife Stadium.

A cold evening never got much better for the Flyers as they lost to the Devils, 6-3, Saturday in the 2024 Stadium Series.

John Tortorella's club trailed for all but 31 seconds of the game. Nico Hischier scored a breakaway goal on the game's very first shift. The Flyers pinched too deep in the offensive zone and left no help behind the play.

New Jersey tacked on another marker for a two-goal lead at first intermission.

Owen Tippett scored the Flyers' first two goals. His second was on the power play to trim the Flyers' deficit to 4-2 at second intermission.

But Hischier added his second early in the final stanza and that was the game. Nick Seeler scored his first of the season with 10:53 remaining in the game but a comeback attempt was too late.

Nathan Bastian iced the game with an empty-netter.

The Flyers (29-20-7) lost in regulation for the first time since the extended break. They had a five-game point streak (4-0-1) snapped by the Devils (28-22-4), who are trying to chase down the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division race.

With the win, New Jersey climbed to within five points of the Flyers. Not a backbreaking loss for Tortorella's team, but definitely a missed opportunity.

"We move by it. We're thinking Chicago," the Flyers' head coach said. "I hope the families had fun, I hope the boys had fun. You lose the game, we move by it. It's only one game."

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 79.2 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to's probabilities report. With 26 games left, the Flyers are still in third place of the Metropolitan Division.

However, fourth-place New Jersey has played two fewer games than the Flyers and meet them once more April 13 in Philadelphia. The Flyers are 1-1-1 against the Devils this season.

"We've got to move on and get ready for the next one," Travis Sanheim said. "I'm not worried about this group."

The Flyers dropped to 1-4-1 all-time in outdoor games.

• With the Flyers down 2-1 in the second period, a frustrated Travis Konecny negated his team's power play opportunity by slashing Brendan Smith.

It felt like a big swing. The Flyers had seized momentum a little over midway through the game after Tippett drew them within one 3:08 minutes before Konecny's penalty.

Smith then flushed a rebound with 3:24 minutes left in the second period to cushion New Jersey's lead back to two. One minute and 12 seconds later, Bastian sniped a shot past Samuel Ersson and suddenly the Flyers were down 4-1.

"That's T.K. As I've said to you guys before, I'm not getting in the way of his emotion," Tortorella said. "We have to figure out how to help him in that situation."

Konecny finished with two assists. He said he "obviously" should not have taken that penalty.

Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Images
Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Images

• Ersson, who has been super reliable since the break, was not at his best.

Tyler Toffoli sent the Flyers into first intermission with a 2-0 deficit when he scored off a sizable rebound.

The Flyers' netminder finished with 34 saves on 39 shots.

"Anytime you let in a rebound goal, you kind of know you've got to put that puck somewhere better," Ersson said. "A couple of those today. Obviously those cost us. They were tough goals against. It's part of what I've got to do better in a game like this today."

Prior to this outing, the 24-year-old rookie had gone 3-0-1 with 92 saves on 101 shots after the bye week and All-Star break.

Nico Daws, a rookie like Ersson, stopped 45 of the Flyers' 48 shots for the Devils.

The 23-year-old faced 27 shots in the second period and turned away 25 of them.

Whatever Tortorella said at first intermission seemed to work, but the Flyers also hurt themselves.

They were not sharp or disciplined.

"I thought the most important part of the game was when we got it rolling in the second period, then we started taking penalties," Tortorella said. "Not so much being a man down, but we're man down, 4-on-4 — we needed another goal in the second period. I thought we were right there knocking on the door, but then we took some penalties and it took us out of our flow.

"We had them. We were checking forward, we were getting it up with chances. We needed one more and we just kind of lost ourselves at the end of the period."

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• Tippett was a minus-4, while first-line center Sean Couturier and top-pair defensemen Sanheim and Cam York were each a minus-3.

"Obviously that was a big two points," Tippett said, "but we've still got some time here and some big games down the stretch."

York, dealing with an upper-body injury he suffered Thursday night, was cleared to play. The 23-year-old defenseman was "not sure" about his status after Friday's outdoor practice.

Tortorella went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

• The Flyers are back indoors Wednesday when they visit the Blackhawks (7:30 p.m. ET/TNT).

"That game scares the s--- out of me in Chicago," Tortorella said. "I want us ready to play that game. That's the next game."

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