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Devils face a must-win scenario in Game 2

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Devils face a must-win scenario in Game 2
The New Jersey Devils already are in a must-win situation Friday night in Game 2 against Philadelphia.
NEWARK -- The New Jersey Devils certainly know heartache in the opening game of a playoff series.

Since the dawn of Devils hockey in 1982-83, New Jersey has lost 19 Game 1's in 38 playoff series. The Devils rallied back from an 0-1 deficit eight times in those 19 series. 

After losing Game 1 at the Prudential Center Wednesday, New Jersey hosts the Flyers in Game 2 Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN).

"This is a huge game," Devils forward David Clarkson told NHL.com. "You don't want to go into their building down 0-2 but we also know it's playoffs and anything can happen. We just have to work hard, be better on the power-play and in our own end."

The Devils have lost six of the last seven playoff series in which they've suffered an opening-game loss. And that all began in the 2001 Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche when the Devils dropped a 5-0 decision in the opener en route to a seven-game series defeat.

"We have to go into this game with that mentality (of needing the win). We've got to play a very good game and do the things that allow you to win. You can't always control that, but we have to go out with that type of mentality."
-- Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner

Most recently, the Devils lost the opening two games to the New York Rangers in the 2008 Conference quarterfinals on home ice before eventually being eliminated in five games.

Here's the kicker: Of the eight playoff matchups the Devils came back to win after losing the opener, they were the Game 2 victor every time. One would assume that makes Friday's contest with the Flyers a must.

"We have to go into this game with that mentality (of needing the win)," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We've got to play a very good game and do the things that allow you to win. You can't always control that, but we have to go out with that type of mentality. I think we played a pretty cautious Game 1. We obviously played extremely well defensively in limiting their chances, but we weren't as desperate as we need to be to win hockey games in the playoffs. That's the effort we need (Friday)."

This is the fourth postseason meeting between the Devils and Flyers. In 1995 and 2000, the Devils won the opener on their way to capturing the Stanley Cup. In the 2004 Conference quarterfinal, the Flyers won the series in five after taking the opening two games in Philadelphia.

"I think it's a critical game for us to win," Devils defenseman Mike Mottau said. "We need to be going down to Philly with an even series. They play tough on their home ice. They come out hard and their fans are into it, so, for us, we're preparing the same as Game 1. I think we came out well but we're just looking for a different outcome."

The Flyers, meanwhile, have to be feeling pretty good after securing a 2-1 win Wednesday. The victory presented them home ice for three of the next five games, if needed.

Since entering the League as part of the 1967 expansion, Philadelphia has been involved in 69 playoff matchups, winning 34 Game 1's and coming away with 26 series wins. You'd have to go back to 2003-04 to uncover the last time the Flyers had actually won a series opener -- 3-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Conference semifinals. They'd win that series in six.

Since then, Philadelphia had been involved in six playoff matchups and lost the opening game every time -- winning two of the six series. The Game 1 victory against New Jersey snapped their opening-game playoff losing streak.

When told that Langenbrunner expects his team to play with more desperation, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette wasn't surprised.

"What else is he going to say?" Laviolette said. "That's the way the playoffs are. I'm sure they're not saying, 'Well, 0-2 is not a bad spot to be in.' They're ramping it up because they need to win it. Like I've said, it's less about who's on a roll and more about desperation. When you lose a game and your back is against the wall, you become more desperate. I'm sure they want to come out hungrier and get themselves into the series with a win.

"For us, we still have to take it one game at a time," he continued. "I'm positive by the way we played down the stretch (this season), but there're lots of areas we can improve on in Game 2 from Game 1."

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger realizes the opportunity his club has in Game 2, but he steered away from calling it a desperate situation.

"We're desperate to play a better hockey game," Pronger said. "I think if you go back and look at the tape (of Game 1), (goalie Brian Boucher) won that game for us. We gave up a lot of quality scoring chances that we're looking to not give up (Friday). We were able to capitalize in the second period and get that lead and, as you all know, a lead is very important in the playoffs. We've got to come off with a better start (for Game 2) by playing better defensively and limiting their scoring chances."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com
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