Game 14: Devils Erase Early Deficit, Further Frustrate Phillygame recaps February 16, 2013
Games between the Devils and Flyers have featured more open space than most would have believed over the course of the last year. The Devils mopped the ice with Philadelphia during last spring’s second round with a 4-1 series victory characterized by New Jersey creating chances off Philadelphia turnovers thanks its aggressive forecheck. Friday night’s victory again was a wide-open contest, as the Devils rallied for a 5-3 win behind a third-period deflection from David Clarkson, for his 10th goal of the season off a soft wrist shot by Adam Larsson.
While the scoreboard at Prudential Center showed a positive result for New Jersey at the end of the evening, the Devils were floundering early in the contest despite taking a 1-0 lead 40 seconds into the contest. Following a Wayne Simmonds turnover in the Devils’ defensive zone, Ilya Kovalchuk brought the puck through the neutral zone before finding a streaking Travis Zajac who beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrister from the left circle for his first goal in 11 games. (Zajac had just one point over that span as well). All changed rather quickly.
The Flyers cashed in on an early power play as Wayne Simmonds finished off a blocked shot that trickled through in front of Martin Brodeur at 9:27. Mike Knuble then added his 18th career goal against Brodeur on a wrister from the high slot that Brodeur never saw; Philadelphia added a third moments later on a Matt Read goal on which Devils’ defenseman Mark Fayne should received a secondary assist. Soon enough, the Devils were trailing 3-1.
With a wide-open game featuring the usual amount of physical play between New Jersey and Philadelphia, neither Brodeur or Bryzgalov were at their best as the Devils battled to get back into the contest. Bryzgalov must be having flashbacks to last season’s playoffs as newly reacquired Alexei Ponikarovsky again beat Bryzgalov with a wrist shot. It wasn’t an overtime winner this time, but Ponikarovsky’s goal early in the second period cut the lead to 3-2 on an understated assist from Ilya Kovalchuk. Patrik Elias tied up the game late in the second off a Kimmo Timonen turnover on a pass from Kovlachuk and Steve Bernier added an empty netter to ice the victory.
New Jersey travels to Long Island tomorrow for their fourth meeting with the Islanders this season.
-Kovalchuk’s three assists give him 799 career points and nine points in his last five games.
-Brodeur stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced.
-Stefan Matteau was a healthy scratch for the first time this season, as noted by the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.
-Ponikarovsky was reacquired from Winnipeg on Wednesday after news broke that Dainius Zubrus will miss 4-to-6 weeks recovering from wrist surgey. Ponikarovsky scored a goal against the Flyers in his debut with New Jersey last season following his trade from Carolina. The veteran winger told the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti that it felt like he never left New Jersey.
-Elias finished the game with a goal and two assists.
-Andy Greene has not registered a point for three games, but did finish the game a plus-4 on Friday.
-Larsson finished the contest a plus-3 and notched his second assist in four games.
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Follow Dan Pennucci on Twitter @dpennucci.Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias