"For whatever reason, we were all over the place and never got settled," Langenbrunner said of his club squandering a two-minute 5-on-3 in the first period. Jersey's Team came up empty again in a 33-second two-man advantage to start the second.
Martin Brodeur made 22 saves on 27 shots and joined Patrick Roy as the only goaltenders in history with 1,000 appearances. His 15th consecutive opening night start put him past Roy and Terry Sawchuk for the most in League history.
"We couldn't score on our power play, then they get back, they score a goal and from there it just kind of went south on us," Brodeur said.
After Jeff Carter had made it 1-0 in the first period, Ian Laperriere's sharp-angle wrister found an opening under Brodeur's blocker in the second. Mike Richards' wraparound goal glanced up and over Brodeur's outstretched left skate to lift Philadelphia to a 3-0 advantage with 4:37 left in the second.
"Not really his best game," Lemaire said. "It's kind of tough for him. He got a couple of easy goals on him and after that, he was maybe questioning himself a little bit. But hey, it's one game, no big deal."
The Devils (0-1-0) dropped their first of six meetings with the Flyers, whom they face at Philadelphia on Nov. 16. New Jersey will be back in action on Monday for another tough Atlantic battle when they host the rival New York Rangers.
The Flyers got a strong performance from Ray Emery, who blanked Carolina on Friday, and held the Devils off the scoreboard until Rolston broke up the shutout at 9:44 of the third period.
"He made good saves the whole game, and made the saves he should have made," Zach Parise said. "He played really well."
DEVILS SCORING PLAYS:
BERGFORS passed to ROLSTON at the top of the left circle for a PP blast over Emery at 9:44 (3rd).
LANGENBRUNNER broke up a play in the D zone and raced up ice to gather a cross-ice feed from ZUBRUS. The captain snapped his SHG by Emery's blocker from the right circle at 13:40 (3rd).
Parise manned the point to start the key two-minute two-man advantage at 9:49 of the first period.
"We just didn't get any good scoring chances," Parise said. "That was ugly; it was very ugly. We're going to have to look at it and see what went wrong. We just weren't sharp on that."
Lemaire said the failed 5-on-3 weighed on his team the rest of the game.
"It worked on our mind because we weren't good after it, at all," he said. "We started to turn the puck over and not be as good with the puck as we were at the start. We tried to forget that. It's happened with other teams, but you just have to try to forget it and keep playing the game."
Lemaire observed that the Devils tried to force scoring opportunities down low and said they could have used the point to get pucks to the net. But it's just one loss, and he's not worried yet.
"If I get two like this, I might be," he said. Carter's second of the season developed from a centering attempt for Danny Briere that bounced off Johnny Oduya in front. He recovered the puck and slipped it inside the right post at 15:57.
The Devils were on their third power play when Travis Zajac was robbed on the doorstep after redirecting a David Clarkson pass on Emery with 22 seconds left in the first period. Paul Martin foiled Claude Giroux's last-second shorthanded breakaway when he chased and stripped the puck off Giroux's stick as the buzzer sounded.
Darroll Powe's wrister from the left circle glanced off Brodeur's catching glove to make it 4-0 at 7:34 of the third. Rolston cut the deficit to 4-1 before Matt Carle snapped the Flyers' fifth goal through Brodeur's pads at 11:13.
But the Devils didn't give up.
"I thought our guys kept playing even though (the Flyers) took a big lead," Lemaire said. "The guys were positive on the bench and talking about, 'Don't let up, keep working, we'll get goals.' As a matter of fact, we got two."
Lemaire was pleased with the play of Niclas Bergfors (1a, 16:25 TOI) and Rob Niedermayer (13:40 TOI). He would like to see Bergfors take shorter shifts.
"He'll be more effective if he stays with the short shifts than staying out there long," Lemaire said. "That was probably the most negative in our game tonight: long shifts from the different groups. Because after, you don't have that same energy, especially since it's the first game."
• Lemaire thought his club might have had some jitters. More than a home opener, it was also Brodeur's 1,000th game.
"That was on everybody's mind, and (it was) a new start for us," he said. "But there's no excuses there."
• Preparation for Monday's game against the Rangers will include some work on the power play at Sunday's practice.
"Little stuff that we still have to work on to get better," Lemaire said. "You always have to look at what doesn't go right on your team and what you can improve. That's how you prepare."
• Langenbrunner said there were positives to build on despite the loss. The penalty kill was perfect in three tries.
"We did do some good things," he said. "The penalty kill was pretty solid tonight, we have to get better on the power play and better on 5-on-5. We didn't get enough chances on 5-on-5."
The captain said the team just needs to put this first game behind it and move forward.
"First game jitters; everybody gripping the stick a little tighter than normal," he said. "We know where the opportunities are and we missed a couple."
• Parise and Rolston manned the points on the five-forward unit that Lemaire used on the 5-on-3. Zubrus was up front with Bergfors and rookie Matt Halischuk. It was all new to Parise.
"I'd never been up there, so I was surprised," Parise said. "But we're all good enough players that, especially on a 5-on-3, we should be able to go out there and play wherever you are. That's not an issue."
• Devils slipped to 17-6-4 all time in season openers. They are 1-2-0 in home openers at Prudential Center. New Jersey faced Philadelphia in its opener for the third time, and the first time on home ice.
1 - 0 PHI
James van Riemsdyk
2 - 0 PHI
3 - 0 PHI
James van Riemsdyk