NEWARK, N.J. — Alexei Ponikarovsky scored on his own rebound with 2:39 left in overtime and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in this Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise also scored for the Devils, who killed off two penalties in overtime before Ponikarovsky came through with his first goal of the postseason on a backhander that sneaked past Ilya Bryzgalov.
Martin Brodeur made 25 saves for New Jersey, which will look to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series Sunday.
Kovalchuk, who missed Game 2 with a lower body injury, also had two assists in his return, including one on the game winner. Danny Briere, Matt Carle and Brayden Schenn tallied for the Flyers. Bryzgalov had 27 saves.
Schenn nearly won the game eight minutes into overtime with a deflection in front and then the Devils’ penalty kill did an outstanding job after a controversial boarding call against Dainius Zubrus with 11:37 left in the overtime and a delay-of-game penalty against Bryce Salvador. New Jersey had problems with its short-handed lines in Round 1 vs. Florida, but the unit that was ranked No. 1 in the regular season appears to have regained its form.
The Devils seemed on the verge of a 3-2 win early in the third when Parise rammed a puck into the net from in close after Elias won a loose puck behind the net and found the Devils’ captain all alone at the right goal post.
Kovalchuk came within inches of making it a two-goal lead minutes later when he had a shot hit off the crossbar as Bryzgalov looked behind him.
The Devils have now won three of four overtime contests this postseason.