BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
This Monday night contest started off slow until Danny Briere took a high sticking minor at 13:17. New Jersey capitalized 17 seconds later as Zach Parise bounced a pass off the skate of Chris Pronger and past goalie Michael Leighton to go ahead 1-0. The Flyers got the majority of puck control and shots, but Devil’s star goalie Martin Brodeur held off their chances.
The period started off with a bang. Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela cut to the net for a shorthanded goal, taking a hit from Jeff Carter on the play. He left the ice on a stretcher with a head injury, and no penalty was called. The Devils outplayed the Flyers until the last 5 minutes or so of the period. With 1:36 left, rookie James van Riemsdyk scored on a quick wrist shot to make it 2-1. About a minute later, Chris Pronger made a quick breakout pass to Scott Hartnell for a two-on-one, passing it to Jeff Carter for a one timer goal and a 2-2 tie.
The Devils saw a few power play chances and seemed to have the upper hand early on, but near the mid point, the Flyers got one of their own. Mike Richards cashed in off a pretty setup from behind the net by Kimmo Timonen. Despite a late game penalty, the Flyers held off a surging Devils offense and held the 3-2 lead.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
James van Riemsdyk: Rookie and New Jersey native, “JVR” worked hard, drawing penalties and creating chances in front. He had a pretty goal in the second period to start the Flyers’ scoring and get the team rolling.
Chris Pronger: Pronger, as usual, played his solid brand of hardnosed defense. He also showed his great awareness on the quick breakout pass that sprung Scott Hartnell and led to the Jeff Carter game-tying goal. Pronger was a +2 with 2 assists on the night.
Kimmo Timonen: Timonen provided most of the Flyers’ early chances, and was a constant presence on both offense and defense, stopping several opposing chances with heavy stick play. Timonen got an assist that set up the Flyers’ go ahead third period goal.
Michael Leighton: Coming off two straight losses, despite giving up a low total of three goals, Leighton stopped 28 of the Devils’ 30 shots, some being very high quality chances at very opportune moments, and helped his team to a 3-2 win at home.
Penalty Kill: Possibly the result of some undisciplined play, the Flyers penalty kill held strong after giving up a quick early goal on their first tour of duty. Overall, the penalty kill stopped 6 of 7 Devils’ chances.
After two consecutive losses, scoring only a single goal, it was important for the Flyers to exert themselves offensively and find the back of the net before it became habit. Not an easy task against the league’s winningest goalie, Martin Brodeur. Fortunately, despite a two goal deficit, the Flyers came back and took the lead. More importantly, they defended it against a team that always seems to find the last minute goal against them.
This win, the first of two in a home and home series against the Devils moved the Flyers up from 8th to7th in the conference, tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning.