Devils erupt in 4-1 win over Flyers, tie series

Associated Press Published: May 2, 2012
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — No Ilya Kovalchuk, no problem for New Jersey.

With the injured Devils forward out for Game 2, Adam Larsson traded his seat in the rafters for an up-close look at postseason play.

He might get to stick around.

Larsson scored the first playoff goal of his career off a wrist shot in the third, igniting a four-goal outburst in the period that rallied the Devils to a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night and tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

"I'm not a goal scorer so I was happy for that," he said. "I was happy for that and I think you can see that we get everybody going after that. We score two, three, four there, so it was very important."

Oh yeah, it was important.

Larsson and Clarkson scored consecutive goals in the third period to rally the Devils past the Flyers and make up for the absence of Kovalchuk. The Devils played without their leading scorer from the regular season 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 New Jersey.

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. 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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