Alexei Ponikarovsky scored with 2:39 left in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Ilya Kovalchuk, who sat out Game 2 with a lower body injury, made a stretch pass from his own zone to Ponikarovsky while the Flyers were making a line change. Ponikarovsky skated down the right wing on a 2-on-1 and his initial shot was stopped by Ilya Bryzgalov, but he got his own rebound and backhanded it in for the win.
Kovalchuk posted a goal and two assists while Ponikarovsky and Patrik Elias each had a goal and an assist for the Devils, who took a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven series. Martin Brodeur posted 25 saves for the 105th win of his playoff career.
"We've set ourselves up well, but at the same time, we can enjoy this victory tonight and then come back at it and get ready for Sunday," said Elias. "We have to focus on that and leave the rest behind."
Brayden Schenn, Matt Carle and Danny Briere each scored for the Flyers, who wasted a pair of power plays in the overtime prior to the Devils scoring. Bryzgalov stopped 27 shots in the loss.
"Unfortunately we couldn't capitalize in overtime and there's nothing you can do about that," said Bryzgalov. "We just have to come back tomorrow and prepare for the next game."
Game 4 of this series will take place on Sunday night in New Jersey.
The first power play of the game went to the Flyers and they took advantage of it. Good work behind the New Jersey net saw Briere come away with the puck and skated to the left. He then sent a pass to the left circle where Schenn one-timed it home at the 6:08 mark.
The Devils, though, scored goals 20 seconds apart later in the first period to take the lead.
Skating on the power play, Elias got the puck at the right point and skated down to the circle. From there, he snuck a shot past Bryzgalov's blocker at the 12:33 mark.
Moments later, Travis Zajac fired a pass from the left wing to the slot where a wide-open Kovalchuk beat Bryzgalov to the glove side for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
The only goal of the second period belonged to Philadelphia as Jakub Voracek skated behind the New Jersey net and came out to the left side where he passed it to the circle and Carle blasted a one-timer through a screen set up by Claude Giroux at the 4:44 mark.
Bryzgalov needed to make just four stops in the second period with his biggest one coming about two minutes in as he stoned Adam Henrique on a breakaway.
The Devils took the lead at the 7:29 mark of the third as Elias sent a pass from the deep left boards back to the right where Zach Parise snuck in a quick stuff attempt.
Philly, though, had the answer 3 1/2 minutes later. Shortly after Kovalchuk rang a shot off the left post, Briere brought the puck into the Devils zone down the left wing and left a drop pass from James Van Riemsdyk, who fired a shot on net. Brodeur stopped the shot, but the rebound sat to the left and Briere was there to chip it in for his league-leading eighth goal of the playoffs.
Briere's goal was the 50th of his postseason career...The home team has won just seven of the 20 overtime games in these playoffs...Philadelphia went 1- for-5 on the power play while New Jersey was 1-for-2...The two goals in 20 seconds was the fastest pair of goals in postseason history for the Devils. The former mark was 26 seconds on May 14, 2000 when Petr Sykora and Bobby Holik scored against the Flyers...Philadelphia rookie forward Sean Couturier left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.