Devils top Flyers to close out series
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils will play in the conference finals for the first time in nine years.
The Philadelphia Flyers have to be left wondering how it all went wrong.
Forty-year-old Martin Brodeur made 27 saves and the Devils scored three unanswered goals Tuesday night in a 3-1 win over the Flyers in Game 5.
The Devils, seeded sixth, won four straight games in the series to make the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since they won their last Stanley Cup in 2003.
"Oh, it's nice," said Brodeur. "I think we deserved it. We played really hard this series, we survived a few scares in the first series. So it's nice that we finished this off today and looking forward to a little break here and see what we're going to face in the conference finals."
Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk scored the last three goals and the Devils moved on to face either the Rangers or Capitals. The top-seeded Rangers lead that series 3-2 with Game 6 set for Wednesday in Washington.
The Flyers, after scoring 30 goals in a 4-2 series win over Pittsburgh, went out with a whimper against another Atlantic Division rival, losing the last game without star forward Claude Giroux, who served a one-game suspension.
"Really proud of our group. Proud of how we stuck to the game plan. Proud of how we turned the other cheek. Proud of how hard we competed against a very hardworking and competitive team," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer. "It gets tougher from here."
Ilya Bryzgalov, who stood on his head to keep the Flyers in Game 4 on Sunday, gave up the go-ahead goal to Clarkson in the second period on a failed clear.
Max Talbot had the only Flyers goal 7:18 into the game, the fourth straight time the East's No. 5 seed scored first in the series and lost.
Bryzgalov allowed all three goals on 30 shots.
Giroux, who is leading all players with 17 points in the playoffs, served his suspension for hitting Dainius Zubrus in the head in Game 4.
The "engine" of the Flyers only stepped onto the ice after the game was over, coming out in a suit to shake hands.
"Everything happened kind of fast," said Giroux. "It's obviously frustrating. We know we could have done a lot more damage than that. And you saw guys tonight play desperate hockey. They played with heart and that's how we should have played the whole series."
His teammates struck first again, but for the only time.
Danny Briere threw the puck in front and Talbot was one of several Flyers who hammered away at it, scoring his fourth goal of the playoffs for a 1-0 lead.
The Devils tied the game 2:09 later and had a lead within 5 1/2 minutes of Talbot's goal.
First, Salvador beat Bryzgalov with a snap shot from above the left circle to kill Philly's momentum.
The Flyers didn't always play well in front of Bryzgalov in the series, but the enigmatic goaltender had no one but himself to blame for New Jersey's second goal.
Tying to clear the puck to his left with no one between himself and Clarkson, Bryzgalov goofed. His limp pass was intercepted by the Devils winger next to the crease and knocked in to make it 2-1.
"It just hit off my stick and went in," said Clarkson. "He put it right off my stick and back in."
Several players were shaken up by hits in the game.
Zac Rinaldo, in the lineup for Giroux, leveled defenseman Anton Volchenkov early in the first period and Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds knocked Marek Zidlicky into the boards in the second.
Later in the second, Rinaldo drew an interference penalty when his hip check behind the net caught Zubrus in the knee and sent the Devils forward to the locker room.
The Devils took the licks and Kovalchuk gave them their 3-1 lead five minutes into the third period with his fifth goal of the playoffs. Adam Henrique got his second assist of the game on the play, and Kovalchuk also had a helper.
The Devils took a 3-2 lead over the Flyers in their five all-time meetings in the playoffs...New Jersey beat the Anaheim Ducks in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals.
05/09 00:26:19 ET