Black­wood re­turns to lead Devils over Fly­ers

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Tom Cana­van

NE­WARK, N.J. >> Nine games into his NHL ca­reer, Macken­zie Black­wood is start­ing to emerge as the New Jer­sey Devils’ No. 1 goal­tender.

Black­wood re­turned to the lineup after miss­ing three games with an in­jury and made 32 saves in lead­ing the Devils to a much­needed 3-2 vic­tory over the Philadel­phia Fly­ers on Satur­day.

“I can’t imag­ine how much pres­sure you have as a goalie if you make a mis­take, it’s back in the net,” said Nico His­chier, who got the game-win­ning goal on a break­away in the sec­ond pe­riod.

“If you do a mis­take as a for­ward, you have a de­fense­man usu­ally still there and you have the goalie. So what he’s do­ing is pretty im­pres­sive for me.”

The 22-year-old Black­wood, who was called up from Bing­ham­ton after Cory Sch­nei­der went on in­jured re­serve, is 4-2 in seven starts and two re­lief ap­pear­ances. He has al­lowed two or fewer goals in eight of his nine ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing one where he had to leave after one pe­riod be­cause of a lower body in­jury that forced him to miss three games.

There is no doubt the Devils, who need a big sec­ond half to get into play­off con­tention, have shown life when he plays.

“I love that my team­mates feel that way, but from my per­spec­tive, I feel like they make my job easy,” Black­wood said. “It’s just kind of like work­ing off each other. I guess they’re work­ing off me and I’m work­ing off them. It’s great team chem­istry.”

Da­mon Sev­er­son and Miles Wood also scored as Devils goal­tender MacKen­zie Black­wood, cen­ter, falls back to the ice while try­ing to de­fend his net against the Fly­ers dur­ing the third pe­riod of a game Satur­day in Ne­wark, N.J. The Devils won 3-2.

the Devils won for the sec­ond time in six games and handed the Fly­ers their ninth loss in the past 10 games (1-7-2).

James Van Riems­dyk and Sean Cou­turier scored for Philadel­phia. Carter Hart gave the Fly­ers a chance, mak­ing 23 saves.

“Cer­tainly it’s been frus­trat­ing,” said Van Riems­dyk after scor­ing in his sec­ond straight game. “We shoot

our­selves in the foot a lot and it makes you have to chase the game a lot of the time. It’s tough. We did do some good things, but ul­ti­mately we made some key mis­takes and they ended up in the back of our net.”

The game be­tween the strug­gling East­ern Con­fer­ence teams was a matchup of two young goal­tenders who have played well since be­ing called up from the

mi­nor leagues be­cause of in­juries.

The 20-year-old Hart is 3-5-1 in nine games for the Fly­ers.

“I think he is giv­ing us a chance ev­ery time he is in the net to win,” said de­fense­man Radko Gu­das. “It’s what we need. We need the con­fi­dence to know he is go­ing to stop the puck. He has been play­ing well for us. He is re­ally, re­ally good for his

age.”

Black­wood, who was ac­ti­vated from in­jured re­serve be­fore the mati­nee, was a lit­tle bet­ter. He had 12 saves in the third as the Fly­ers ral­lied after fall­ing be­hind 3-1.

Sev­er­son gave the Devils the lead at 6:32 of the first pe­riod. The de­fense­man took a pass from Drew Stafford and one-timed a shot from low in the left cir­cle over Hart’s shoul­der for his sixth goal.

His­chier beat Hart on a break­away 5:08 into the sec­ond pe­riod after steal­ing a pass by Fly­ers de­fense­man Travis San­heim. It was his 13th goal of the sea­son and came 15 sec­onds after he left the penalty box.

Van Riems­dyk cut the lead to 2-1 with 4:09 left in the pe­riod on a break­away, but Wood scored on a re­bound 1:18 into the third pe­riod. Cou­turier scored his 16th goal with 2 sec­onds left in the game.

NOTES

Devils F Mar­cus Jo­hans­son also was back in the lineup after miss­ing 10 games with an up­per-body in­jury . ... The Fly­ers are the fourth team in NHL his­tory to use seven goal­tenders in one sea­son . ... The pre­vi­ous time the Devils and Fly­ers started rookie goal­tenders was 1987 when Craig Billing­ton was in net against Ron Hex­tall.

UP NEXT

Fly­ers: Host the Min­nesota Wild on Mon­day.

Devils: Host the Chicago Black­hawks on Mon­day.

JULIO CORTEZ — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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