Clarkson blisters shot past Brian Boucher for 2-1 lead in second period.
It was déja Moose all over again.
Johan Hedberg, this time protecting a shutout late in the second period, was caught out of the net for a second straight game with an unpredictable, unfortunate puck bounce off the boards at Prudential Center.
Scott Hartnell took advantage, scoring the first of his two goals in the Devils' 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
The play was eerily similar to Tuesday's game, when a dump-in by Minnesota's Clayton Stoner hit off the glass by the Devils' bench and found its way past Hedberg to the back of the net.
"Second game in a row," Hedberg said. "I've never seen that bounce, ever. From that angle with the puck and the way it came out, with as fast as it came out, I've never seen it. It just keeps happening game after game."
Dainius Zubrus’ fifth of the year had the Devils ahead 1-0 in the second when Ville Leino’s dump-in ricocheted off the right corner boards to the front of the net.
Hedberg, out of the crease to play the puck, couldn’t recover to stop Hartnell's backhander at 15:46.
"There's something going on," Hedberg said. "I don't know if it's me with bad judgment or it's weird bounces – I'm not sure. But it's happened to me too often."
We're just not getting any breaks whatsoever. We are working harder. I think we're working smarter. Sooner or later, it will have to turn around.- Johan Hedberg
Jamie Langenbrunner was scratched from Thursday's contest, and Jacques Lemaire addressed the captain's absence in his postgame comments. Langenbrunner's skates and equipment were hanging in his stall after the game.
"The only thing I know is, before the game Lou (Lamoriello) told me that Jamie won't be playing," Lemaire said. "That's all that I know."
The Devils got off to a solid start against the defending Eastern Conference champs, grabbing leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Danny Briere scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner that broke a 2-2 tie at 2:48.
Leino capped a three-assist night by setting up Briere's winner in the slot. Leino's pass from the right wall went off Travis Zajac's stick before Briere beat Hedberg to his glove side.
The goal came just five seconds after the Devils had killed off a Flyers power play. Briere added an insurance marker at 11:34.
David Clarkson had the other goal for the Devils (10-28-2), who dropped their third in a row.
Hedberg keeping the puck – and Jeff Carter – out of the net.
Hedberg made his second straight start, marking the first time since 2004 that Martin Brodeur backed up in consecutive games. He finished with 16 saves.
Hedberg was outstanding early. During a Philadelphia power play in the first, he sprawled to deny Briere’s chance off an end board rebound. Later in the frame, he came out to the hash marks with a poke check on James van Riemsdyk’s breakaway with 4:46 left.
In the second, Hedberg did the splits for a right toe stop on Andreas Nodl’s redirection of a van Riemsdyk pass.
"Heddy stood on his head tonight, I don't care what anybody says," Clarkson stated. "There were some goals at the end, but nothing he could do. He played great for us and we've got to come back and play well for him."
But Hedberg's sharp play was no match for the bad caroms. He suffered more tough luck on Briere's second goal, a pass for Hartnell that went off Colin White's skate and inside the left post with 8:26 left in regulation.
"It's been the same thing the whole year," Hedberg said. "We're trying and we're trying and every time we do something good, it comes back and they do something else. It's extremely frustrating."
He added: "We're just not getting any breaks whatsoever. We are working harder. I think we're working smarter. Sooner or later, it will have to turn around."
Zubrus, who was not expected to play because of a lower body injury, opened the scoring with his first point in nine games. He got a stick on Anton Volchenkov’s shot from the right point, redirecting it past Brian Boucher from the slot at 11:37.
Boucher needed 18 saves for the victory.
Clarkson's fifth of the year put the Devils ahead, 2-1, following a brief video review. He collected a pass from Andy Greene and got a step on Sean O’Donnell to rip a shot just under the crossbar. The puck could be heard hitting iron, but it was difficult to tell at regular speed if it had gone off the crossbar or gone in.
Though Clarkson began to celebrate, there was no signal given by referees and play continued. Replays showed the puck going off the back bar and out for a Devils lead 1:54 after Hartnell had tied it at 1-1.
"To be honest, Greener made a great play," Clarkson said. "I took the puck through the middle, faked a shot and shot it upstairs. I heard a weird 'thud.' Usually a post, you hear that 'ding.' I heard a 'thud' so I figured, put my hands up. I'm up there in shots on net, but it's been awhile since one had gone in, so I put my hands back down quickly and backchecked because I really didn't know. But I did hear that weird sound and was hoping it was in."
Clarkson ended a 17-game goal drought.
"It kind of takes a little bit off your shoulders – not much – but I think it's something I have to build off of and continue to do," he said.
Hartnell and the Flyers tied it up 2-2 just 1:14 later. Leino carried down the right side, setting up Hartnell’s redirection at 18:54.
Coach's quotes Lemaire on the team's bad breaks:
"We don't have the bounces, that's one thing. We do have to be careful because, we're not having the bounces on our side. We can't take bad penalties. We can't gamble on plays. That's important. You gamble, you hope to get the puck, you don't get it, then they come in. You give an odd man rush and then they score. Everything's gone. All that you worked for. We have to be a little more careful because I think we're learning. We were good in our end a lot of times to bring the puck out. I wish we would get a little more offense, but let's try to be better to start and then I think we'll get the goals."
On the overall effort:
"Yeah, the guys are working. To get them to know how to win, what they have to do to win, to stay in the game, there's a lot of good things that we did tonight, a lot of good things. It's too bad it turned out the way it did there. I thought the guys were working. We had one line, Patrik (Elias' line with Zubrus, Brian Rolston) was better than the other lines offensively. Kovy's line had flashes. At least we've got the guys working."
White OK after collision
White was slow to get up after crashing heavily into the end boards after the Flyers' fourth goal, but reported feeling better after the game.
"I went in hard, but I'm fine," said White, whose skate got caught up with Hartnell's on the play.
With the secondary assist on the Zubrus goal, Patrik Elias picked up his 65th career point against Philadelphia, surpassing John MacLean for the Devils’ scoring lead against the Flyers (27g-38a). … Matt Corrente and Mattias Tedenby were scratched. … Devils close out the home-and-home Saturday in Philadelphia, and host Tampa Bay for a 5 p.m. start on Sunday.
1 - 0 NJD
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NJD
2 - 2 Tie