The struggling Philadelphia Flyers will try to salvage the finale of an important home-and-home series on Friday when they host the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers were slammed 5-2 in Newark to open this two-game set on Wednesday, giving Philadelphia losses in four of its last five games. Philly also fell to 0-3 this season against the Atlantic Division rival Devils, who beat the Flyers in five games during last spring's Eastern Conference semifinals.
Philadelphia is quickly falling behind in the East playoff race and is currently sitting all alone in 11th place, five points out of a postseason berth. The Devils, meanwhile, are tied with Toronto for sixth in the conference and are also six points ahead of the Flyers.
New Jersey jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period of Wednesday's contest before cruising to the easy win. It was the second straight victory for the Devils after losing seven of their previous eight contests.
Adam Henrique posted two goals and an assist to lead the way in the home-and- home opener. The second-year center has recorded five goals in seven games this month.
Andrei Loktionov and Patrik Elias each posted a goal and an assist for the Devils, while Ilya Kovalchuk had the other goal. Kovalchuk has 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 48 career games against the Flyers.
"We had a lot of chances tonight and did a good job of putting them away," said Kovalchuk. "Hopefully this gives us a big jump and we'll be able to carry it into Philly."
Johan Hedberg made 23 saves, improving his record to 3-6-1 since No. 1 netminder Martin Brodeur went down with a sore back. Hedberg is 10-10-0 with one tie in 23 career appearances versus Philadelphia.
Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell scored for the Flyers, who failed to build off Sunday's home win over Buffalo.
Ilya Bryzgalov was tagged for all five goals on 32 shots and had some harsh words for his team after the game.
"They beat us tonight and that's all there is to it," said Bryzgalov. "I really have no idea what to say about this aside from that I'm just tired and have no emotions. A lot of disappointment right now."
Philadelphia can't blame injuries for its current problems, as the Flyers are healthier now than they've been at any point this season. That being said, defenseman Luke Schenn is questionable for Friday's game due to flu-like symptoms.
Perhaps the Flyers can take advantage of New Jersey's poor road record to get back on track with a win. The Devils have lost four straight as the guest and are just 4-6-3 away from the Garden State this season.
Philadelphia is 8-4-1 on home ice.