Celebrating Zubrus' first goal of the season Friday night.
newjerseydevils.com – With a 3-2 lead after one period against a winless hockey team, the Devils were riding high against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday at Prudential Center.
But Philadelphia captain Mike Richards changed that with assists on four straight goals for the Flyers, who notched their first victory of the season with a 6-3 decision over the Devils.
Zach Parise collected a goal and two assists while linemate Travis Zajac added a goal and assist of his own for New Jersey (5-2-0), which lost for just the second time this season. Dainius Zubrus chipped in his first goal of the season on the power play.
Letourneau-Leblond lands a punch on Cote in the second period of Friday's action.
The Devils allowed four unanswered goals over the final 40 minutes and saw their streak of consecutive home wins against the Flyers come to an end at 12. The club came up short in its bid to go 6-1 to start a season for the first time since 2002-03.
Head coach Brent Sutter said his group didn't play the smart hockey that had contributed to a three-game winning streak.
"We weren't intelligent and made bad decisions with the puck," Sutter said. "We didn't shoot the puck enough. We had opportunties where we were trying to make the perfect play."
Martin Brodeur made 22 saves in the loss and stalled at 543 career victories. The defending Vezina Trophy winner needs eight wins to tie Patrick Roy for the league's all-time record of 551.
The teams complete the home-and-home Saturday with a 4 p.m. puck drop at Wachovia Center. Sutter said after the game that he expects Brodeur to make his eighth straight start.
"We get another crack at it tomorrow at 4 p.m. against the same team," said Sutter. "We know we'll have to play a more intelligent team game then. It wasn't what we've been doing the past six games."
The teams traded goals 1:03 apart in the first two minutes of action before swapping power-play strikes later in the first period.
The Devils got on the board first for the second straight game, taking a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds in on Zajac's first of the season. The third-year center has picked up four points (1g-3a) in two games.
Zajac carried the puck across the slot and lured Flyers' netminder Martin Biron wide of the right post. When he lost his shooting angle, Zajac threw a centering pass to the front of the net that deflected in off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn.
But it was soon 1-1 when Jeff Carter drove wide around Johnny Oduya and snapped a shot from the right circle that beat Brodeur up high at 1:50.
A five-minute major for boarding was assessed to Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond when he hit Riley Cote at 9:01 of the first, and the Flyers took advantage. Letourneau-Leblond later dropped the gloves with Cote for his first NHL fight, earning a draw in a spirited second-period scrap.
Mike Knuble got his first of the year when he took a Richards pass inside the Devils' blueline, and turned the corner on Bryce Salvador. Brodeur's poke check missed the mark and Knuble put the Flyers on top 2-1.
New Jersey's power play responded with its first chance to even the contest at 2.
The Devils set up in Flyers territory, and Patrik Elias passed to Parise stationed at the right side of Biron. Parise, New Jersey's leading scorer (5g-5a-10pts), centered to Zubrus for his first of the year at 15:09.
Parise did it all in the opening 20 minutes, assisting on the Devils' first two goals and breaking the 2-2 stalemate with 19 seconds left in the period. The Flyers iced the puck with 23.3 seconds left, and Zajac's offensive zone faceoff win contributed to Parise's third goal in as many games.
Zajac beat Richards on the draw, and Brian Gionta found Parise at the left side of Biron's crease. The two-time 30-goal scorer finessed the go-ahead tally through Biron's pads at 19:41.
Things turned for New Jersey in the second period, however, when Philadelphia caught New Jersey flat-footed and reclaimed the lead. The Devils managed just four shots to the Flyers' nine in the middle frame, and were outshot for the first time this season, 28-26 overall.
With John Madden in the box for hooking, Simon Gagne needed just six seconds of Philadelphia's third power play to tie things up at 3-3. Gagne pounced on the rebound of Richards' left circle snapshot to score his fifth at 11:57.
Zubrus had several scoring chances throughout the contest, and nearly made it 4-3 with a one-timer from Elias that Biron stuffed at 13:37.
Richards notched his third assist when he set up Scott Hartnell for the Flyers' second lead, 4-3. He won a battle for the puck against Madden in the Devils' zone, and carried around the net for a centering feed that Hartnell put through a goal-mouth scrum at 16:55.
The Devils outshot the Flyers 14-7 in the third period, but the goals went Philadelphia's way.
Zubrus was stopped by Biron with a chance to tie at 4-4 after Petr Vrana intercepted a pass behind the Flyers' net and found Zubrus in front at 10:08.
Shortly afterward, Richards connected with Joffrey Lupul down the middle to make it 5-3 at 11:22, and Hartnell added his second of the game on an empty-netter at 18:04.
NJD NOTES David Clarkson moved up to the Zajac-Parise line for Jamie Langenbrunner, who did not see action after the 8:06 mark of the second. Clarkson earned a takedown of Andrew Alberts in a second-period bout... Flyers' leading scorer Daniel Briere was not in Friday's lineup.