Devils' Mackenzie Blackwood bests Flyers' Carter Hart in rookie goalie battleJanuary 12, 2019 11:01pm

Jan. 12-- NEWARK, N.J.-An old rivalry was renewed with two of the game's rising rookie goalies in net for the Devils and Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon at the Rock.

Carter Hart came to the NHL on the same day as Mackenzie Blackwood amid a lot more fanfare, but it was the latter who bested the Flyers in the Devils' 3-2 win at Prudential Center.

"He's come up and played really strong in each game he's played," center Nico Hischier said. "He's made really big saves and that's huge for us. It gives us confidence and momentum."

The New Jersey youth movement was on full display with Hischier, Damon Severson and Miles Wood scoring the Devils. Blackwood stopped 32 of 34 shots, nearly notching a third straight home shutout in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury in Arizona on Jan. 4.

The Devils (17-20-7) survived a hard third-period push by the Flyers thanks, in large part to Blackwood. The third line was hemmed into the defensive zone for nearly two and a half minutes at one point with two players attempting to fight off the surge without sticks.

With Damon Severson taking a late penalty the Flyers had a 6-on-4 opportunity in two of the last three minutes of the game but the Devils, along with Blackwood, killed it off.

"The way he handled those last couple minutes is how he's always played," coach John Hynes said. "He's calm in the net, he's got tremendous size, he plays a little bit deeper, he's got the opportunity to look over and see people."

Sean Couturier scored with two seconds left but the Flyers (16-23-6) ran out of time in the end.

"Just battle, give yourself a chance. Hopefully, you come out with a couple saves there that change the game," Blackwood said. "Unfortunately, they got that one there right at the buzzer but we had a comfy enough lead that it didn't turn the game, which was nice."

It was an insurance goal by Miles Wood early in the period that proved to be influential. Wood pounced on a rebound and stuffed it past Hart at the left post to put the Devils up 3-1 just 1:18 into the period.

Onetime Devils' target James van Riemsdyk beat Blackwood off the rush at 15:51 in the second period to cut the New Jersey lead in half.

Hischier scored arguably the most impressive goal in the goal in the game at the 5:08 mark in the second period. Hischier was opportunistic coming out of the penalty box, stripping Travis Sanheim of the puck in the neutral zone and beating two defenders to the goal, where he went five-hole on Hart (23 saves) to put the Devils up 2-0.

Drew Stafford set up Severson for the first goal of the game at 6:32, faking a shot from the slot to get Hart to key in on him before dishing off to Severson out wide. Severson threw a sharp-angle shot on net to put New Jersey on the board.

This was the most complete effort the Devils have been able to put together since before embarking on a four-game road trip to start the new year.

"Everybody in this room tries his best each night, but this league is so tough if you don't play detailed enough," Hischier said. "Today, we came out strong and we played detailed enough to win the game."

The only area of the game they failed to figure out was the power play. A combination of tensions boiling over and some undisciplined play by the Flyers gave the Devils five power play opportunities.

The Devils capitalized on exactly none. Even with Marcus Johansson back on the second unit, they generated little and their puck movement was effectively broken up by Philadelphia's penalty killers.

The power play has been streaky all season and it appears to have gone cold yet again, with the Devils going 0-for-16 with the man-advantage in the last five games.

___

(c)2019 The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)

Visit The Record (Hackensack, N.J.) at www.NorthJersey.com

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