Dainius Zubrus scored a go-ahead goal late in the second period which held up as the winner, and he added an empty-net marker as the New Jersey Devils took a 3-1 Eastern Conference semifinal series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
Marek Zidlicky and Petr Sykora each had a goal and an assist in the 4-2 victory. Goalie Martin Brodeur made 20 saves on the occasion of his 40th birthday and assisted on the final goal of the game, his third point of the playoffs.
"It's a nice one that's for sure," Brodeur told Hockey Night in Canada on the ice after the game.
"The boys kept plugging away and pretty well dominated the rest of the way," he added.
Brodeur has more
Martin Brodeur notched his third assist Sunday, the most points he's ever compiled in one postseason. For his career, he has one goal and 11 assists in the playoffs.
Brodeur in these playoffs has more …
- David Backes
- Brian Boyle
- David Legwand
- Alex Semin
- Shea Weber
- Ruslan Fedotenko
- Sergei Kostitsyn
- Jamie Langenbrunner
- Jarret Stoll
- Dennis Wideman
Zubrus scored his first goal shortly before getting checked in the head by Philadelphia forward Claude Giroux. The Russian veteran was able to shake off the blow to play regularly in the third period at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Game 5 will take place in Philadelphia on Tuesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).
Giroux set up Scott Hartnell's power-play goal midway through the first and scored a short-handed goal himself just under two minutes later as Philadelphia raced to a 2-0 lead.
But the Devils soon dominated, holding a 23-7 advantage in shots at one point.
Sykora scored on the power play at 15:14 of the first, and Zidlicky tied the score just under three minutes later.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov kept his team in the game with 40 saves.
The Devils with one more victory can reach the conference final for the first time since 2003, the last time they won the Stanley Cup.
"We just have to play better," Giroux said. "We should know by now what we're supposed to do at all times. And there's not one guy out there that's going to quit."
The question for the Flyers is whether they will have Giroux, who has eight goals in the postseason.
"It was quick play. And hockey is a quick game. I think I should be fine," Giroux said.
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer wasn't so sure.
"For me, it looks like the textbook hit that they're trying to take out of the game," DeBoer said.
The Flyers seemed to come apart at the end of the game. Defenseman Kimmo Tomonen took a foolish penalty in the closing minutes and Philadelphia never got off a good shot after pulling Bryzgalov in the final minute.
In fact, Zubrus was about to score into an empty net when he was hooked. Still, the puck went off his stick and into the net.
Zubrus gave New Jersey its first lead with 2:13 left in the second period. The Flyers actually broke up a 3-on-1 break into their zone, but they lost sight of Zubrus, and Adam Henrique found him all alone in front for a shot that went in off Bryzgalov.
Moments before the goal, Brodeur stopped a shot from the point by Timonen, and Hartnell couldn't get off a good shot on the rebound with Brodeur down and the net open.
Sykora, who might have gotten a piece of Hartnell's rebound attempt, quickly led the 3-on-1 counterattack and the Devils pulled ahead.
The Devils forced Flyers coach Peter Laviolette to use his timeout less than five minutes after the opening faceoff, and for a couple of minutes it appeared to be a magical move.
Getting a lift from its special teams, Philadelphia jumped to a 2-0 lead.
Hartnell gave the Flyers the lead, deflecting Giroux's shot past Brodeur seconds after Travis Zajac was tripped and took a retaliatory interference penalty.
Giroux, who had been invisible in the Devils' wins in Games 2 and 3, doubled the margin at 13:40 by beating the birthday boy on a 2-on-1 short-handed tally after taking a great break-in-pass from Maxime Talbot.
The goal came 13 seconds after Philadelphia defenceman Andreas Lilja was called for tripping, but the Devils didn''t let the man advantage go to waste.
Sykora cut the Devils' deficit in half late in the power play, redirecting a nice cross-ice pass by Zidlicky past Bryzgalov, who was a little slow covering the corner of the net after the defenseman made the pass from the right point to the left edge of the crease.
Zidlicky tied it with 1:51 left in the period after the Flyers' seemed to lose sight of the defenceman after he pinched down from the right point. The puck ended up on the left point and fellow defenceman Bryce Salvador found Zidlicky between the circles for a redirection.
"It was a great effort from the guys," said Brodeur. "We started not the way we wanted to start the game. We get bang-bang — a power-play goal and a short-handed goal — but we beared down afterward and we dominated the game."
Devils fourth-liner Ryan Carter was scratched because of an illness. Tim Sestito played in his first NHL postseason game replacing him.
Sean Couturier, who missed the final two periods of Game 3 with a lower-body injury, was back in the Flyers' lineup.