By Tim Panaccio in Newark, N.J.The Drop
Danny Briere was as candid and angry as he's even been.
You're lucky to get even one power play in a Stanley Cup playoff overtime game. But two? And then to squander both with just one, measly shot.
"The power plays cost us the game tonight, all around," Briere said after Thursday's 4-3 OT loss to the Devils
, who now lead this Eastern Conference semifinal series, 2-1.
"I was trying to protect it the first two games, saying that good things were going to happen, it's just a matter of time. But the last two games, the all-around effort on the power play is just not good enough.
"It seems like we just think that they're going to let us do whatever we want out there. Their penalty-kill unit is outworking us by a mile. It's the reason why we lost the last two games.
"If the power play's hungry, it's a different story. We could be up 3-0 instead of down 2-1. The 10 to 12 guys that are on the power play, it's time to step up here now and want to be out there. It's an honour to be out there. Right now, we take it for granted." Powerful stuff, and a major reason why the Devils won
Here's another. The Flyers attempted a five-man change with Devils forward Ilya Kovachuk on the ice in the final three minutes of OT and that led to Alexei Ponikarovsky's game winner.
"I saw, all five guys were changing," Kovalchuk said. "We got two-on-one and [Ponikarovsky] made a great play there."
Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists in the game, playing with a bad disk in his back.
"He's very dangerous and he plays hard," said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov of Kovalchuk. "He does whatever he needs in the interests of the team. He defended. He had opportunities to shoot the puck. He's a great player."
Said Kovalchuk,"I feel good today. I was well-rested. Two days off is always good. Sometimes you've got to take one step back to make two steps forward after that. It was a little pressure too.
"The guys played so well in Game 2 and you don't want to get back in the lineup just because you want to play and you want to fill in right away and play the way they did in Game 2 and I think we did that and we got a win."
Flyer rookie defenceman Erik Gustafsson blamed himself on the last change.
"It was a stupid mistake," he said. "I thought I had time to get off the ice. That obviously wasn't the case. It's a seven-game series. You just have to put it behind you and move on."
Ponikarovsky had two goals against the Flyers in the regular season as a Devil.
"I didn't have time to celebrate because everyone jumped on me right away, but I had a great time in the pile," said Ponikarovsky of his game-winner.
"He's very dangerous and he plays hard," said Bryzgalov, who was victimized there. "He does whatever he needs in the interests of the team. He defended. He had opportunities to shoot the puck. He's a great player." Injury
Flyer rookie shutdown centre Sean Couturier suffered a nasty skate cut from David Clarkson in the first period. He did not return. Record goals
Patrik Elias and Kovalchuk scored 20 seconds apart in the first period, establishing a new Devils' playoff record for fastest two goals.
The previous record was 26 seconds by Petr Sykora - who is back with the Devils now -- and Bobby Holik on May 14, 2000 against the Flyers in Philadelphia.
That would have been Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals which New Jersey won, 4-1 en route to its last Stanley Cup. Bad news all around
The Flyers are a woeful 13-19 when they lose Game 3. They are 7-19 all time when trailing a series 2-1 after three games, and are 13-13 in Game 4when trailing 2-1.
Now regarding the Devils, in the previous four series between the teams (since the Devils moved to New Jersey) whichever team led 2-1 in the series, eventually won the series. There was one notable exception: the 2000 conference finals.
Tim Panaccio reports for CSNPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @tpanotchCSN.
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