Friday, February 15, 2013

Flyers waste record-setting first period, lose to Devils

Special to the Phanatic

Newark, NJ -- So, Martin Brodeur didn't manage to record another shutout on Friday night, but what's a little history mixed in with a surprising defeat?

David Clarkson's 10th goal of the season, netted in the third period, was the game winner as the New Jersey Devils rallied to beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3, at Prudential Center.

Patrik Elias had a goal with two assists and Ilya Kovalchuk added three helpers for the Eastern Conference-leading Devils, who were down 3-1 after the first period. Martin Brodeur allowed those scores in a span of 2:36 -- a Philadelphia team record against the Hall of Fame-bound netminder -- but made 25 saves in all to earn his 47th career win against the Flyers.

"After we were down, we just had to get back to play the way the Devils' play,'' Clarkson, the club leader in goals, said. ''We never hit the panic button as a team. We did a lot of good things in the second and third periods when we needed it. We had to come on like that after being down.''

Ilya Bryzgalov faced only 18 New Jersey shots, but four of them wound up in the back of his net.

Clarkson broke a 3-3 tie at the 10:43 mark of the third. Matt Read tried to use the glass in attempt to clear the puck out of the Philadelphia zone, but Devils defenseman Adam Larsson kept it in at the right point and fired a shot that was redirected by Clarkson inside the near post.

Bryzgalov was pulled inside of two minutes to play, and Steve Bernier iced the win on an empty-net goal with 1:36 remaining.

"The same mistakes bite us in the second period,” Bryzgalov said. “Marty just finds the puck at the far blue line and every time he [starts] odd man rushes and the catch us in the [line] changes. Everybody knows he’s good with the puck and it seems like he played a third [defenseman] for them tonight.”

For the second straight meeting, Travis Zajac gave New Jersey an early lead.

Off a pass from Kovalchuk, Zajac fired a wrister from the left circle behind Bryzgalov 40 seconds after the game's opening faceoff. The tally ended an 11- game drought and was his first since scoring 1:07 into New Jersey's home opener, a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 22.

Unlike last month, the Flyers were able to solve Brodeur Friday night, doing so three times in a 2:36 span later in the first period.

The barrage began on the power play, a unit that was 0-for-6 in the first encounter this season. Wayne Simmonds parked himself in front of Brodeur and whipped a backhander through the goaltender's pads at 9:27.

Clarkson rang a shot off the post roughly a minute after Simmonds lit the lamp.


Mike Knuble then beat a fellow 40-year-old at 11:15 as Philadelphia worked the puck from the icing line to the high slot. Read made it 3-1 with a one-time blast from the inner edge of the left circle at 12:03.

The Devils erased their deficit in the second behind goals from a repatriated Alexei Ponikarovsky and Elias.

As was the case in the first period, Bryzgalov gave up a goal in the opening minute. Kovalchuk gloved Brodeur's stretch pass in the neutral zone and dished to Ponikarovsky, who beat the Flyers netminder on short side 26 seconds into the frame.

The Devils acquired Ponikarovsky Wednesday in a trade that sent two draft picks to Winnipeg. Ponikarovsky elected free agency after registering one goal and eight assists in the Devils' run to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.

Kovalchuk fed Elias for the equalizer, a shot which dribbled over the goal line after squeezing through Bryzgalov's pads, with 4:20 remaining.

"Like I said, I think we were on the attack in the first period, and the second and third not quite as much,'' Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette said. ''The second and third, they picked up their game a little bit and had their chances and scored on them.''

Notes: The last time the Flyers scored at least three goals in the first period of a road game against the Devils occurred in a November 11, 1989 tilt at the Meadowlands, where the Orange and Black scored four times on Chris Terreri en route to a 7-5 win...Kovalchuk has 799 career points...Flyers captain Claude Giroux had two assists in his 300th NHL game...Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return...The Flyers fell to 1-2-0 on their six-game road trip, which continues on Saturday in Montreal...New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene finished plus-4...Flyers forward Sean Couturier returned from a two-game absence due to the flu...Knuble's goal was his 18th against Brodeur, second-most amongst active players, with former Flyer Simon Gagne first with 19.
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