The Philadelphia Flyers will try to even their best-of- seven Eastern Conference semifinal series when they visit the New Jersey Devils for tonight's Game 4 at Prudential Center.
The fifth-seeded Flyers claimed Game 1 of this series in overtime last Sunday in Philadelphia, but New Jersey has answered with consecutive wins to take a 2-1 advantage in this matchup between Atlantic Division rivals.
After posting a 4-1 road victory in Game 2, the sixth-seeded Devils earned an overtime win in Thursday's battle at the Prudential Center. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored with 2:39 left in OT to give the Devils the 4-3 decision and improve their record at home in this postseason to 3-1.
Devils winger 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 are trying to reach the conference finals for the first time since winning their last Stanley Cup title in 2003.
"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."
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur posted 25 saves for the 105th win of his playoff career. The future Hall of Fame goalie turn 40 years of age today.
Brayden Schenn, Matt Carle and Danny Briere each scored for the Flyers. Briere's goal was his eighth of this year's playoffs and 50th of his postseason career.
The Flyers went 1-for-5 on the power-play in the game, but wasted a pair of opportunities with the man advantage in overtime before New Jersey beat Bryzgalov for the game-winner. Philadelphia is 2-for-16 on the power play in this series after converting 12 times on 23 chances with the man advantage in its opening-round victory over Pittsburgh.
"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."
Bryzgalov stopped 27 shots in the loss for the Flyers, who lost rookie centerman Sean Couturier with a lower-body injury in the first period. Couturier, a key defensive forward for the Flyers, is day-to-day and is questionable for tonight.
The Flyers are 2-2 as the guest in these playoffs after posting a strong 25-13-3 road mark during the regular season.
Philadelphia will host Game 5 of this series on Tuesday.
The Flyers, who last made it to the conference finals in 2010, are 7-19 all- time in series where they trailed 2-1 after three games.
New Jersey and the Flyers 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.