After suffering an overtime loss in the series opener, the New Jersey Devils will try to answer back when they visit the Philadelphia Flyers for tonight's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
However, New Jersey will have to even the series tonight without the services of star winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who will sit out Game 2 with a lower-body injury.
"Ilya will not be in the lineup," Devils CEO Lou Lamoriello stated. "He's back in New Jersey and he's day-to-day."
Kovalchuk led the Devils with 37 goals and 83 points in the regular season. He has three goals and three assists in eight postseason games this spring.
The fifth-seeded Flyers drew first blood in the best-of-seven series, taking Game 1 by a 4-3 score Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center. Danny Briere scored 4:36 into overtime to send the home crowd into a frenzy and stake Philadelphia to the 1-0 series lead.
Briere's OT game-winner was his second marker of the game and his seventh of the playoffs, tying him with teammate Claude Giroux for the most in the NHL this postseason.
"When I have the opportunity like I have this year, like I've had the past few years in the playoffs, you try to make the best of it and enjoy it as much as possible," said Briere.
Briere's game winner came moments after he had a goal disallowed because it was kicked in with his left skate. But there was no doubt about his next shot, a rifled blast from the point that made it through a James van Riemsdyk screen and past Martin Brodeur.
All told, Briere has 10 points in this postseason and 106 points in 104 career playoff games. His next postseason goal will be the 50th of his career.
"When he gets the puck on his stick, something is going to happen. That's why he's so dangerous," said Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who had an assist. "He's money in the playoffs."
After a slow start, the Flyers peppered Martin Brodeur with 36 shots and took the early lead in the series despite allowing the Devils to tie the game twice in the last two periods.
Giroux and Van Riemsdyk also scored and Ilya Bryzgalov made four of his 23 saves in OT for the Flyers, who were playing for the first time in a week after wrapping up their first-round win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games on April 22.
Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Petr Sykora scored for the sixth-seeded Devils, with Sykora's goal tying the game 11:22 into the third period. Brodeur gave up all four goals, including the game-winner on Philadelphia's seventh shot of the extra period.
The Devils, after beating Florida in double-overtime Thursday to win Game 7 of their quarterfinal series, will try to even this series tonight before hosting the next two contests in New Jersey.
"We were able to erase a couple of leads and stayed in the game. I wish we could have kept that pace up that we had in the first period," said Parise. "We didn't really give them much room out there, but I thought we played a pretty solid game all around."
The Flyers and Devils have met four times previously in the Stanley Cup playoffs and each team has claimed two series. New Jersey beat Philadelphia in the 1995 and 2000 conference finals, but the Flyers have won the last two series, having ousted the Devils in five games in the opening rounds of the 2004 and 2010 postseasons.
Philadelphia barely won the 2011-12 season series against the Devils, posting a 3-2-1 record.
Philadelphia was 22-13-6 as the host this season and is 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Center in the playoffs. The Devils were 24-15-2 as the guest in 2011-12 and are 2-3 on the road this postseason.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark.