NHL Game Summary - Philadelphia at New Jersey
(Tuesday, March 9th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 3, New Jersey 1
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Robert Esche made 20 saves and John LeClair scored a goal and added two assists, as the Philadelphia Flyers earned a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Meadowlands.
Mark Recchi notched a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, while Kim Johnsson also found the back of the net. Michal Handzus assisted on all three goals.
The Flyers won for the third time in four games (3-1-0) and increased their lead in the Atlantic Division to seven points over the second-place Devils. The season series between the two rivals is even at 2-2-1, with the final match slated for Saturday in Philadelphia.
It was also the first win in the last six road games (1-3-1-1) for the Flyers. Philadelphia hadn't won away from home since February 12 against the New York Rangers.
"I thought the first two periods, probably the first 45 minutes, with everything that was at stake, we played a tremendous road game," Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Turner Stevenson scored the lone goal for New Jersey, while Martin Brodeur made 17 saves in defeat.
The Devils failed to pick up a point for the first time in four games (2-1-0-1) and fell to 2-4-0-1 in their last seven. New Jersey has lost two straight at home after going five games without a loss (4-0-1) at the Meadowlands.
"It put a serious dent in our chances (of winning the division)," said Devils head coach Pat Burns. "We're not throwing in the towel, but if we win tonight, it's a different situation."
The Flyers scored first with just 1:17 left in the opening period, cashing in a 3-on-2 rush. Handzus raced into the New Jersey zone along the left wing and sent a pass toward the slot for LeClair, who was tied up. The puck made its way to a trailing Recchi, who was able to snap a shot past Brodeur for his 26th goal of the season.
Philadelphia caught New Jersey in a line change early in the second period to increase the lead to 2-0.
The Flyers broke into the zone 4-on-2 and LeClair fired a shot from the right wing boards. Brodeur made the save, but the rebound caromed into the slot for a charging Johnsson, who banged it past the sprawled netminder for his 10th goal of the season at the 1:11 mark.
The Devils then failed to capitalize on a pair of power-play chances. The second featured a great save by Esche, who slid across the crease to deny a point-blank shot by Patrik Elias with 11:44 left in the second period.
New Jersey, which managed only 10 shots through two periods, finally beat Esche at 6:05 of the third period.
Scott Gomez controlled the rebound of a Stevenson shot behind the Flyer net and fed a pass into the slot for Scott Niedermayer, who spotted Stevenson wide open in the right circle. Stevenson quickly snapped a low shot past a screened Esche for his 11th goal of the season.
Esche made a nice save moments later on a right-circle blast by Jamie Langenbrunner to keep the Flyers in front.
Elias had a chance for New Jersey with just over two minutes left, but Esche took a shot from the right circle off the mask.
The Devils pulled Brodeur with just over a minute left and had a couple of chances, but Esche was up to the task.
"He was solid. He was solid, especially in the third period when we needed him," said Hitchcock. "They were coming at us pretty good towards the end. After they got their first goal, they turned up the heat a little bit."
LeClair then scored into the empty cage with 13 seconds left to seal it.
The Devils and Flyers were quiet at the trading deadline. Each club had made a few moves in the days leading up to Tuesday's deadline...The Devils were without Brian Gionta, who sat out his second straight game with facial lacerations he suffered when a puck hit him in the face last Friday against Tampa Bay...New Jersey defenseman Brian Rafalski missed the last two periods with a leg injury.
03/10 00:06:37 ET