The Devils' hopes for a quick start to the new season were dashed by the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov made 20 saves for his 24th career shutout as the Devils' season opener was spoiled by a 3-0 loss at Prudential Center on Saturday.
“Obviously it’s not the way you drew it up, but we’ve got to take a step,” said new coach Peter DeBoer. “It looked to me that we were at practice speed and they were at NHL game speed. Our reaction time never caught up to where theirs was tonight.”
Martin Brodeur started his 17th consecutive season opener, extending his own NHL record with the same team. He finished with 26 saves, including two while shorthanded: Andreas Nodl’s breakaway with 13 seconds left in the first period, and Sean Couturier’s 2-on-0 with Maxime Talbot early in the second.
“He was outstanding,” DeBoer said. “He was, by far, our best player.”
Adam Larsson recorded four shots in his NHL debut and led Devils defensemen with 21:46 of ice time.
“Personally, I did good things and bad things, I think,” Larsson said. “Overall, we didn’t have a good game. But you look forward and just play better next game.”
I thought our second period was the best of the three periods. I thought we started to settle in and do some of the things we wanted to do. - Coach Peter DeBoer The sellout crowd of 17,625 made for an impressive sight, and Larsson admitted to having some jitters. This year's fourth-overall pick became the first 18-year-old to suit up for the Devils since Petr Sykora in 1995-96.
“I was a little nervous in the warmups, actually,” Larsson said. “I didn’t know what everything was like, the crowd and stuff. But it felt pretty good by the beginning of the game.”
DeBoer wants to see youngsters like Larsson, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby put this loss behind them.
“I think the best way I can put it for all our young guys is that I think we’re all glad that first game’s over with and we can all put it aside and move forward now,” DeBoer said.
The three-game homestand continues Monday with a 1 p.m. meeting with Carolina.
"In this League you have to have a really short memory," said new captain Zach Parise. "We didn’t do a lot of things that we’ve been practicing and it showed out there. I guess [we’ll] look at what we did positive, and try to replicate that a little more than we did tonight."
|Adam Larsson battles Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds. (Getty/NHL Images)|
Parise would have liked a better outcome for the Rock faithful.
"It was a good crowd, a good atmosphere tonight," he said. "It was tough not to come away with the win. We ran into some penalty trouble in the third and didn’t give ourselves much of a chance to get back into it."
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Claude Giroux. With the Devils pinned in their own end, James van Riemsdyk passed from the end boards to Giroux, who one-timed his second of the season from the edge of the right circle at 12:05.
Brodeur prevented any further damage in the first with an outstanding shoulder save on Nodl’s shorthanded breakaway to end the frame.
"That's a great hockey club," Brodeur said. "There's no doubt about that. They'll be in the top four teams of our conference, for sure."
The Devils missed a chance to even things in the final seconds of the scoreless middle frame. Sykora was set up for a shot that hit the outside of the net with two ticks left. New Jersey's former first-round pick played his first game as a Devil since April 27, 2002.
Mark Read scored his first of the year from between the circles to make it 2-0 Philadelphia at 2:41 of the third. Wayne Simmonds' first then made it 3-0. He jammed in a rebound three seconds after the Devils had killed off a Flyers power play.
"We played against a solid hockey team: we didn't get a 2-on-1 or a breakaway or anything," Brodeur said. "They just didn't give us anything. They just sat back and waited for us to make mistakes. They have skilled players and they work well on their power play."
The Devils were 0-for-5 with the man advantage, managing two shots.
"In the first I thought we did a couple of real good things," DeBoer said. "It looked good, we had two or three real good chances where if you maybe get one it looks better. Nothing looked good tonight; you just have to learn from it. We got a good lesson tonight from a very good hockey team."
The penalty kill proved resilient in going 8-for-8.
"We had a lot of practice at it, that's about it," Brodeur said of the PK. "I think we need to be good if we're going to take penalties the way we did. It's too much. It takes away from our game, what we want to play, the jump we need to have to be successful in the offensive zone. When you kill so many penalties it's a little hard, so it's definitely something we need to address to be a little more disciplined."
Notes and quotes
DeBoer on what went right:
"I thought our second period was the best of the three periods. I thought we started to settle in and do some of the things we wanted to do. I thought our defensive play got tighter. It was probably the best reflection of how we want to play, but you can’t play one period of hockey in this League."
The Devils are opening the season on a three-game homestand for the first time in their history. After Monday's game against Carolina, they host Los Angeles Thursday at 7 p.m. … New Jersey slipped to 17-7-5 all-time in season openers. … Saturday’s game was the Devils’ fourth season opener against Philadelphia (and first since 1989), but their first-ever season opener versus the Flyers at home. … Before the game, there was a moment of silence for former Devils Karel Rachunek and Alexander Vasyunov, who were killed in the Lokomotiv plane crash, and longtime Devils scout Les Widdifield, who passed away this summer. The Devils wore a black patch featuring the initials of Rachunek and Vasyunov.
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
Ilya Kovalchuk - Dainius Zubrus - Nick Palmieri
Adam Henrique - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Brad Mills - Mattias Tedenby
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov