PHILADELPHIA — The New Jersey Devils know the extra point they picked up Saturday could be pivotal to making the playoffs.
Joseph Blandisi scored a highlight-reel tally in regulation for the Devils, who snapped a three-game road losing streak to improve to 7-2-2 in their last 11 games.
“You really want to have the two points,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. “Down the road sometimes, it makes a difference. You always feel better when you get the second one.”
Shayne Gostisbehere scored for the Flyers to set a club record for rookies with a point in 11 straight games. The streak also is the most by a rookie defenceman in league history, topping the mark set by Barry Beck of the Colorado Rockies in the 1977-78 season.
“He’s stayed very confident with the puck and he’s confident in adding offence to our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said.
After Jakub Voracek was whistled for hooking, the Devils took advantage when John Moore passed to Henrique, whose one-timer beat Michal Neuvirth. The Devils improved to 9-7 in overtime, while Philadelphia dropped to 10-10.
It was the Devils’ 11th power play goal in their last 25 opportunities.
“Power play is going right now,” Henrique said. “Past couple of games it’s been the difference maker, getting us two points.”
Cory Schneider made 31 saves for the Devils.
The Devils began play two points behind Pittsburgh for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They improved to 19-0-4 when scoring the first goal.
“I think we’re more comfortable playing with the lead,” Blandisi said.
Gostisbehere tied it at 1-all 3 minutes, 49 seconds into the third period when he hammered a one-time slap shot from the point through the screen of a jumping Wayne Simmonds and past Schneider. The power-play goal was the first allowed this month by the Devils, who had killed off the previous 22 chances.
The defenceman broke Mikael Renberg’s franchise mark for rookies while extending the league’s longest active point streak. Gostisbehere has three goals and 11 assists over the last 11 games and 10 goals and 20 assists in 36 games overall this season.
New Jersey had a chance to win it in regulation, but Neuvirth made a good glove save on Travis Zajac’s shot from the slot. And Neuvirth stoned Andy Greene with a sprawling save with 2:30 left in overtime before Henrique’s winner.
The Devils took a 1-0 lead on Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season just under seven minutes into the contest when he beat Neuvirth from a tough, short-side angle with a shot he took through his own legs. The puck went off Neuvirth’s left arm and just over the goal line, something that was confirmed after a review.
“You fool around at the end of practice,” Blandisi said. “It was pretty fun to pull it off in a game.”
Philadelphia, playing its fifth game in seven days, came out flat in the first period and was outshot 8-2.
The Flyers controlled the play in the second period when they outshot New Jersey 15-9, but Schneider made some key stops.
Philadelphia had three good chances during a power play five minutes into the period, the best of which was a follow attempt by Simmonds from close range after Brayden Schenn’s shot was denied by Schneider. He later turned away Claude Giroux‘s wrister from in front with just over six minutes left.
“He was standing on his lead like he does every night,” Henrique said.
Neuvirth, Philadelphia’s backup goalie, made his first start since Jan. 27 and had 22 saves. He missed five games because of a lower body injury during that stretch. Neuvirth got the nod from Hakstol because starter Steve Mason is 0-7 in seven career starts against the Devils.
General manager Ron Hextall announced afterward that defenceman Michael Del Zotto would be out for “weeks” due to an upper body injury sustained during a collision with Kyle Palmieri with 7:30 remaining in the third period.
Notes: New Jersey LW Stefan Matteau suffered a facial fracture in practice but won’t need surgery, Hynes said before the game. . … The Devils host the Flyers on Tuesday as the teams wrap up their four-game season series. …. Both teams play back-to-backs on Sunday, with the Flyers visiting the Rangers and the Devils hosting the Kings. It is the first game of a five-game road trip for Philadelphia, which returns home on Feb. 25.