PHILADELPHIA -- Danny Briere's first chance to win the game was waved off. He wouldn't be denied a second time.
Briere's blast from just inside the blue line at 4:36 of overtime was his second goal of the game and gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 1-0 series lead with a 4-3 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Wells Fargo Center.
Jakub Voracek pulled the puck off the wall in the New Jersey end and fed it to Briere at the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo. He settled the puck and rifled a shot through a James van Riemsdyk screen for the winner.
"Usually in overtime, the word in the dressing room before going on, whenever you have the chance to put the puck on net, you throw it on net," Briere said. "You never know what can happen. … We got a break there on mine."
Van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux also scored for the Flyers, Voracek had a pair of assists and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 23 of 26 shots.
Game 2 of the series will be Tuesday before the series shifts to New Jersey for Games 3 and 4.
Briere nearly won the game 2:13 into the extra period, but after a replay review, it was ruled he had kicked the puck into the net.
"Initially on the ice … everything happened so quick, I didn't think I kicked it," Briere said. "I thought I was trying to stop and it bounced off my skate. Looking at the replay, I think it's a little obvious. I think they made the right call on that."
The building rocked and players spilled off the bench to congratulate each other while the play was being reviewed. There could have been an emotional letdown after the goal was taken off the board, but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he wasn't worried.
"I liked what we had done through the previous 42 minutes that we could keep pressing forward and moving forward in the direction we needed to," he said. "I didn't sense there was going to be a let-down."
For that the team can thank Briere, who tied Giroux for the playoff lead with seven goals and is now second to Giroux with 10 points. Beyond that, it's Briere's 14th goal in his last 18 playoff games, and he has 36 goals and 69 points in 64 playoff games with the Flyers.
Briere has become the Flyers' biggest pressure player, but the one player who apparently doesn't feel pressure is Briere.
"Is it pressure? It's fun," he said. "I grew up watching playoff hockey when I was a kid and I always dreamed that one day I'd have the chance to play in those big games. When I have the opportunity, like I have right now this year, like I've had the past few years in the playoffs, you try to make the best of it, try to enjoy it as much as possible. It's not really pressure; it's actually a fun time, an exciting time."
While the end of the game was a dream come true for the Flyers, the beginning was a nightmare. Playing their first game in exactly seven days, they didn't get a shot on goal until 9:59 was left in the first period. By that time the Devils had 11 shots and a 1-0 lead on Parise's third goal of the playoffs just 3:16 into the game.
"We had seven days off and obviously we had some really hard practices during the week, but practices and playing games are a totally different thing," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "You can talk and you can try to make yourself ready for the game, but we were rusty in the first period. You can tell. Everything was off -- timing was off."
Laviolette credited Bryzgalov for keeping the game close.
"I thought Bryz had a heck of a first period when we weren't sharp," he said. "When we walked out of the period 1-0 … he made some saves. I think we probably gave up seven or eight quality chances. We weren't sharp."
Things changed in the second, as the Flyers had much more jump and took the lead on goals by Briere and van Riemsdyk 37 seconds apart.
"We couldn't sustain what we did in the first period," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "They took the game over in the second half. When you're just hanging on, that's what happens."
The Devils were just two days removed from their emotional double-overtime Game 7 win against the Panthers, and also played into overtime in Game 6. However, DeBoer said he wasn't going to blame the loss on his team being tired.
"We haven't made excuses as a club all year," he said. "It is what it is. We just have to get ready for Game 2."
Van Riemsdyk's goal was his first since Jan. 5, which includes a seven-week absence with a broken foot suffered March 1. He returned for the final two games of the first round, but played a limited role.
"It feels really good to score a goal, always," he said. "It is one of the feelings that you live for. It was great."
The Devils tied the game on Zajac's power-play goal at 13:53 of the second, when he tipped a Parise pass between Bryzgalov's pads and barely over the goal line.
The Flyers went ahead on Giroux's power-play goal 4:19 into the third period. But midway through the period, David Clarkson pounced on a Voracek giveaway and sent Sykora in on a breakaway.
It was his first playoff goal since he scored in triple-overtime of Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final for the Pittsburgh Penguins, on June 2, 2008.
"I just kind of got close on my breakaway, try to maybe move in a little bit, fake the shot and try to go fire a goal and it worked," he said. "I was very surprised I got a breakaway that late in the game."
Sykora said after his goal he felt the momentum shift back in his team's favor.
"When we tied our game at 3-3 I really felt that we had a very good chance to win the game," he said. "We got an unlucky penalty on us [a delay-of-game call on Andy Greene 30 seconds into overtime], and I kind of felt if you can weather that storm, a couple shifts right after the power play, that we could come back to our game and go for it and win it. But they kept pressing and got the goal."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK