GAME: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinals; Flyers lead 2-1.
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The New Jersey Devils finally got a lead and did not relinquish it.
Now they'll try not to give up the momentum, either.
Having gotten themselves back in this series with a critical Game 3 win, the defending Stanley Cup champions look to even the quarterfinal matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers at two games apiece.
"We're back in it now," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said after his team's 4-2 victory Monday. "Those guys were flying high and hopefully we put a little doubt in their minds."
The Flyers won 3-2 at home in Games 1 and 2, and did not trail at any point in this series until Patrik Elias scored his second goal of Monday's game with 2:32 left in the second period, giving the Devils a 3-2 lead. Brian Gionta added a power-play goal seven minutes into the third as New Jersey prevented Philadelphia from taking a 3-0 series lead.
"It was looking good there for a couple of days," Flyers center Jeremy Roenick said. "To sweep these guys would take a tremendous, tremendous effort for four games."
Now it will take a big effort for Philadelphia to regain its composure, having blown two one-goal leads Monday and given up three power-play goals after surrendering none in the first two games.
"We didn't play anything different in the way we were going to forecheck or what we were going to do," Flyers center Keith Primeau said of their failures on the penalty kill. "Maybe they were just more desperate on their special teams than we were."
One special teams change Devils coach Pat Burns may make permanent for this series is having Gionta join linemates Patrik Elias and Scott Gomez on the top power-play unit. Burns replaced Turner Stevenson with Gionta in the second period and it led to three goals with the man advantage. Gomez assisted on two of them and also had an assist on Elias' even-strength goal early in the second.
Gionta had been used sparingly on the power play this season, due in part to his 5-foot-7 frame, but the switch worked wonders in Game 3.
"That whole line has helped this team a lot, carried this team at times," Devils defenseman Scott Niedermayer said. "Today they really stepped up. We needed some goals and needed to get the power play going, and they did it for us."
Niedermayer has been the team's acting captain in place of Scott Stevens, sidelined since early January with post-concussion syndrome. A return date for the All-Star defenseman remains uncertain.
While Brodeur played better and made 23 saves after giving up six goals on 44 shots in Games 1 and 2, counterpart Robert Esche may have lost a bit of confidence Monday.
Esche had been a hero for the Flyers through the first two games with some spectacular saves - 61 in all through the first two contests to post his first two NHL playoff victories. However, he looked a lot less steady in net Monday and finished with just 19 saves.
"I think we're still real confident here," said Roenick, who scored in Monday's loss. "We're up 2-1 and they got three goals on the power play which was disappointing. Our penalty killing has been really good, and if we play five-on-five, we have a really good chance."
The series continues Saturday afternoon with Game 5 in Philadelphia.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Flyers - 101 points; 3rd seed. Devils - 100 points; 6th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Roenick, 2 goals; Alexei Zhamnov and Kim Johnsson, 4 assists; Roenick and Zhamnov, 5 points; Sami Kapanen and Michael Handzus, 4 PIM. Devils - Elias, 3 goals; Gomez, 5 assists; Gomez and Gionta, 5 points; Scott Niedermayer, 6 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 44.4 percent (4 for 9). Penalty killing: 75 percent (9 for 12). Devils - Power play: 25 percent (3 for 12). Penalty killing: 55.6 percent (5 for 9).
GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Esche (2-1, 2.70 GAA); Sean Burke (no appearances). Devils - Brodeur (1-2, 2.68 GAA); Scott Clemmensen (no appearances).
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