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Devils erupt in 4-1 win over Flyers; series tied

Associated Press Modified: May 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm •  Published: May 1, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Adam Larsson watched Game 1 from the press box, dressed sharply in a suit and tie. From the rafters, he sat helpless as he watched his New Jersey Devils lose a tough road opener in this Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Flyers in overtime.

In Game 2, though, he received his chance to shed the suit, and don a uniform.

And the 19-year-old rookie took full advantage.

Larsson scored the first postseason goal of his career off a wristshot in the third, igniting a four-goal explosion in the period, as the Devils rallied to a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The best of seven series is now tied at 1-1.

"I know how the playoffs (are)," Larsson said. "I watched all the games from the stands. I know that everybody steps up a little bit. I knew in my mind, if wanted to stay in the lineup, I had to step it up."

Larsson and Clarkson scored consecutive goals in the third period to rally the Devils past the Flyers and make up for the absence of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils played without their regular-season leading scorer because of a lower body injury.

Travis Zajac added a late goal to make it 3-1, and Bryce Salvador scored a late empty-netter for the Devils.

Game 3 is Thursday in Newark, N.J.

Matt Read scored 2:53 into the game to give the Flyers hope they could jump to a commanding series lead. Instead, the offense went into a funk and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov couldn't protect the advantage.

Even without Kovalchuk, the Devils did what they wanted against Bryzgalov, taking close shots and dominating the play in the Flyers' zone.

They just couldn't score — until the third.

Bryzgalov, who signed a $51 million, nine-year deal last summer, was especially stout in the second when he bailed out the Flyers' offense with a 12-save period. The Flyers went more than 18 minutes in the period before taking a shot on Martin Brodeur.

"I didn't sense frustration. We were comfortable with how we played the first two periods," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "And it was just a matter of keeping it going in the third. And the goals came."

Bryzgalov had a brutal first five games of the postseason and allowed 20 goals against Pittsburgh. But he shut down the Penguins in the Game 6 clincher — a 5-1 win — and allowed three goals in the Game 1 victory against the Devils.

He appeared to have turned the corner.

Then came the final period.

Kovalchuk's injury opened a roster spot for Larsson, a rookie defenseman, to be activated. Larsson was a first-round pick last year, and is just 19 years old. He had two goals and 18 points in his first NHL season, but had not played a playoff game yet. Larsson's shot from the circle beat Bryzgalov on his glove side early in the third for the tying goal.

"Down a goal, third period, and it was huge," DeBoer said of the rookie's goal. "I feel great for Larsson. He's been out a few games, and he responded."

Clarkson made it 2-1 minutes later when he scored off a rebound. The Devils won the faceoff and Zach Parise was stuffed with a pad save. Clarkson then crashed the net to knock in the puck and fly gut-first into the crossbar. He lay on top of the net briefly as his teammates mobbed him.

Bryzgalov slammed his stick in frustration after the goal.

Zajac's fifth goal of the postseason on a backhander made it 3-1 and gave the Devils the insurance goal they needed.

"I really felt we'd respond like this," DeBoer said. "I knew we'd be better than Game 1. Knew we'd bounce back. We've dealt with adversity and injuries all year. It's nothing new."

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