PHILADELPHIA — Adam Larsson and David Clarkson scored their first goals of the postseason, and the New Jersey Devils posted a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night, evening this Eastern Conference semifinals series at 1-1.
Larsson and Clarkson scored consecutive goals in the third period to rally the Devils past the Flyers and make up for the absence of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils played without their regular-season leading scorer because of a lower body injury.
Travis Zajac added a late goal to make it 3-1, and Bryce Salvador scored a late empty-netter for the Devils.
Game 3 is Thursday in New Jersey.
Matt Read scored 2:53 into the game to give the Flyers hope they could jump to a commanding series lead. Instead, the offense went into a funk and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t protect the advantage.
Even without Kovalchuk, the Devils did what they wanted against Bryzgalov, taking close shots and dominating the play in the Flyers’ zone.
They just couldn’t score – until the third.
Bryzgalov, who signed a $51 million, nine-year deal last summer, was especially stout in the second when he bailed out the Flyers offense with a 12-save period. The Flyers went more than 18 minutes in the period before taking a shot.
“I didn’t sense frustration. We were comfortable with how we played the first two periods,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “And it was just a matter of keeping it going in the third, and the goals came.”
Bryzgalov had a brutal first five games of the postseason and allowed 20 goals against Pittsburgh. But he shut down the Penguins in the Game 6 clincher – a 5-1 win – and allowed three goals in the Game 1 victory against the Devils.
He appeared to have turned the corner. Then came the final period.
Kovalchuk’s injury opened a roster spot for Larsson, a rookie defenseman, to be activated. Larsson was a first-round pick last year, and is just 19 years old. He had two goals and 18 points in his first NHL season, but had not played a playoff game yet. Larsson’s shot from the circle beat Bryzgalov on his glove side early in the third for the tying goal.
“Down a goal, third period, and it was huge,” DeBoer said of the rookie’s goal. “I feel great for Larsson.”
He’s been out a few games, and he responded.”