The Devils, who did not skate on Wednesday, received some good news on the Kovalchuk front. The Russian forward told trainers he was feeling a lot better after staying home for Game 2 to receive treatment. DeBoer said that the right wing remains day-to-day, but it seems likely the team will give him another day off.
If that happens, Kovalchuk will have had a week to rest before Game 4 Sunday night in Newark. The team has referred to his ailment as a "lower body injury," but he wore a pad on his back after Game 1, and walked gingerly around the locker room on Monday after practice.
Kovalchuk had 37 goals and 83 points in the regular season, and has three and six this postseason. In Game 1 vs. the Flyers, though, he was clearly off his game and had limited movement. He finished with no shots, and was a minus-2.
"Kovy is a big piece of the puzzle," said Devils center Travis Zajac, who scored his fifth goal of the playoffs in Game 2. "He can score at any time. When you don't have that, you have to play a mistake-free game."
For the Devils, that means using an aggressive forecheck. That worked in Game 2, as they forced turnovers and had six players with at least three shots on net.
"They are not going to come here with the same effort they (had in Game 2)," Zajac said. "We expect that. And for us, our game has to get better every night the series goes on for us to win."
DeBoer said defenseman Adam Larsson, 19, probably will be back in the lineup for Game 3. The rookie, who was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, started the four-goal third period with his first postseason tally, a wristshot at 3:08.
The Flyers know all they need is a split in New Jersey to regain home-ice advantage, and push the drama of this regional rivalry even further.
"You can't look too much ahead and think about what's going to happen if we lose that next game. You can't do that in the playoffs," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "This was one of those days you watch tape and you learn from it.
"And make sure everybody is ready on Thursday (to) win the game."