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Nico Hischier scores twice as Devils beat Flyers 6-3 before 70,328 at MetLife Stadium

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Jack Hughes is mentioned so many times when the discussion turns to the New Jersey Devils that many forget about the other No. 1 overall pick on the team and their captain — Nico Hischier.

Hischier had two goals and an assist, including the second-fastest tally to start an outdoor game, and Devils never looked back in beating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 Saturday night before 70,328 fans at MetLife Stadium.

Nathan Bastian also scored twice and Tyler Toffoli and Brendan Smith each had a goal as the Devils won for the third time in four games. Nico Daws made 43 saves in the event that kicked off two consecutive days of hockey at the home of the NFL's Jets and Giants.

The Devils' third win in four games moved them two points behind Detroit in the race for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and five behind the Flyers for the third place in the Metropolitan Division.

“That was a team we are chasing. Everybody was ready to play,” Hischier said. “We were all business.”

Owen Tippett scored twice and Nick Seeler added another for the Flyers, who were 4-0-1 in their previous five games and lost in the so-called four-point game with the playoff chase with the regular season winding down to its final two months. Samuel Ersson made 33 saves in the contest that featured a Stadium Series-record 85 shots.

“At the end of the day, he’s the backbone of this team,” Daws said. “I think he really makes us go. You know, we all respect him so much. He’s a great leader, and, that’s nice to see him get rewarded with a couple of goals.”

This is the first time the NHL's Stadium Series will have games on consecutive days with fans. The Islanders and Rangers play Sunday in another Metropolitan Division rivalry game.

After watching a Jonas Brothers concert and a stirring national anthem by saxophonist Jake Clemons, some fans weren't settled in their seats before Ondrej Palat sprung Hischier for a backhander between Ersson's pads at 32 seconds.

“It was great to get that start, Nico that goal,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “If they beat us they are almost out of reach. We needed this win.”

The fastest goal at the start of an outdoor game was scored by Colby Armstrong of the Penguins 21 seconds into the first official Winter Classic game in 2008 against the Sabres in Buffalo. Ruff, whose 64th birthday was Saturday, was the head coach of the Sabres in that game.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 2-0 with 6:30 left in the period, putting in the rebound of Smith's shot.

Tippett cut the lead to 2-1, beating Daws 7:43 into the second period, a session the Flyers outshot New Jersey 24-15 but were outscored 2-1.

Smith got his second of the season, putting in the rebound of Palat's shot set up by Hischier with 3:24 left for a 3-1 lead. Bastian stretched the margin to three goals with a shot from the right circle 1:12 later for his fourth of the year.

Tippett s cored on a power play for his 21st with 1:37 left in the second but Hischier tallied his 18th early in the third for a 5-2 lead.

The previous record for shots in an outdoor game was 80, which was done twice, the last time in 2019 in a game between the Flyers and Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field.

“We had some breakdowns and some opportunities to score,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “We didn't score and they did. They were the better team.”

In keeping with the tradition of the outdoor games, the teams showed up at the stadium in appropriate costumes for their areas. Philadelphia chose a “Rocky” theme, wearing gray sweats, stocking caps and their hands taped for a fight. New Jersey dressed as “The Sopranos,” arriving in shiney sweats, golf chains and T-shirts. Timo Meier even had a cappuccino cup.

This was the 40th NHL outdoor game and third this season. Edmonton beat Calgary 5-2 in the Heritage Classic on Oct. 29, and Seattle beat Vegas 3-0 in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.


Flyers: Finish three-game road trip on Wednesday in Chicago. “It's only one game, we move by it,” Tortorella said. “Don't make it into more than losing one game.”

Devils: At Washington on Tuesday.