Devils look to take commanding series lead
FLYERS at DEVILS
(Devils lead best-of-seven series, 2-1)
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The Devils will look to take a stranglehold on the series and head back to Philadelphia needing just one more victory to advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2003. New Jersey won 4-3 on Thursday in Game 3 when Alexei Ponikarovsky
took a feed from Ilya Kovalchuk
down his right wing during an ill-advised Philadelphia line change and flipped in his own rebound at 17:21 of overtime.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette changed around his lines during Saturday's practice in an effort to spark some life into his offense. Danny Briere centered Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek; Claude Giroux was between James van Riemsdyk and Wayne Simmonds; Brayden Schenn centered Matt Read and Jaromir Jagr; and Max Talbot skated between Zac Rinaldo and Eric Wellwood. It appears as though rookie Sean Couturier, who suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Game 3, will be sidelined on Sunday and replaced in the lineup by Rinaldo, who would be making his series debut.
Also, there's a good chance defenseman Andrej Meszaros will return to the lineup for the first time since March 1. Meszaros had back surgery on March 21; on Saturday, he was paired with Andreas Lilja, one of the Flyers' regulars on defense, for the first time. The initial prognosis after surgery for Meszaros was 6-8 weeks, and May 2 was six weeks.
New Jersey has a chance to take command in the series with a second straight win at home. But Ilya Kovalchuk
, the best Devil on the ice in Game 3, says New Jersey can't think it's going to be easy.
"You can't think like that. It's only three games behind us in this series. It's the middle of the series," Kovalchuk warned on Saturday. "Right now we just want to protect our home ice. It's never easy to win on the road in the playoffs. We all know how big the game is. I don't think anybody needs to be reminded."
Flyers forward Danny Briere recorded his 50th playoff goal in the third period of Thursday's Game 3 loss in Newark. His two points boosted his career playoff total to 71 as a Flyer and moved him past Reggie Leach and Tim Kerr into sixth place on the team's all-time playoff scoring list. Briere has six goals and 10 points in his last seven games.
Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder
(blood clot) and center Jacob Josefson
(wrist) are out. … Couturier (lower body) is listed as day-to-day, as is Meszaros.
Stat Pack: Patrik Elias
and Kovalchuk scored goals 20 seconds apart in the first period Thursday night, the fastest two goals in Devils playoff history. The previous mark was 26 seconds, with Petr Sykora
and Bobby Holik pulling that off May 14, 2000, at Philadelphia. The Devils won the Stanley Cup that year.
It's birthday weekend for the Devils' veteran goaltending duo. Backup Johan Hedberg
turned 39 on Saturday, and starter Martin Brodeur
will be playing on his 40th birthday. He hasn't played on his birthday since 2006, when Carolina routed the Devils 6-0 in Game 1 of the conference semifinals. Brodeur has a 1-2 record on his birthday, but this is the first time he'll be playing a birthday game at home.