Newark, NJ (Sports Network) – Dainius Zubrus netted the game-winner with 4:04 remaining in regulation, as the New Jersey Devils defeated Philadelphia, 5-3, to even their first-round series with the Flyers at Prudential Center.
Ilya Kovalchuk collected two assists and sealed his first playoff victory with an empty-net goal.
Zach Parise scored a shorthanded goal for the Atlantic Division champion Devils, who rebounded from Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in Game 1. Patrik Elias recorded three assists, and Martin Brodeur made 26 saves on 29 shots.
Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger had power-play goals for the Flyers, while Brian Boucher was beaten four times on 32 shots.
This best-of-seven series will shift to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4, with the third meeting scheduled for Sunday at Wachovia Center.
Zubrus and Parise both took whacks at a rebound, but Zubrus got his stick in front of his teammate’s and swatted the puck over Boucher and the Devils forged ahead by a goal.
“It was a grinding play,” Boucher said of the go-ahead goal by Zubrus. “It came from behind the net. They threw (the puck) on net. I made the first save. Their guy ended up getting (the rebound) and put it top shelf.”
Kovalchuk, who celebrated a win for the first time in six career playoff games, scored into an empty net with 32.9 seconds remaining.
“We played well so far in this series,” Brodeur said. “We’ve got to continue to make Brian Boucher play well. That’s the bottom line. If he plays well, that means we’re having a lot of chances. If we have a lot of chances, the puck will go in.”
Philadelphia was awarded the game’s first power play when Kovalchuk elbowed the pugnacious Daniel Carcillo, but it was Parise who opened the scoring on a breakaway.
Pronger opted not to shoot the puck and misfired on a pass that handcuffed his defense partner, Matt Carle. Elias gathered the puck in the neutral zone and fed a streaking Parise, who beat Boucher with a backhander 2:45 into the first period.
Arron Asham tied the game nearly seven minutes later, converting a Giroux pass through the low slot, and the Flyers grabbed the lead on the power play when Giroux redirected a Carle shot between the pads of Brodeur with 4:30 left in the first.
New Jersey got goals from a pair of defensemen to erase the Flyers’ 2-1 lead.
A soft wrister from the top of the left circle by Colin White managed to squeak through Boucher’s legs at 3:44 of the second period. Andy Greene’s power-play goal put the Devils on top at 13:25.
Pronger then tied the game on the man advantage, his second power-play goal in as many games. The towering blueliner planted himself in front of Brodeur and tipped Kimmo Timonen’s point shot with 1:12 remaining in the middle stanza.
White scored his second career playoff goal and first since April 29, 2000 at Toronto…Philadelphia captain Mike Richards had two assists…The Flyers and Devils are meeting in the postseason for the fourth time. New Jersey eliminated Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals in 1995 and 2000, while the Flyers bested the Devils in the opening round of the 2004 playoffs.
04/17 00:10:40 ET