Philadelphia, PA – New Jersey jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two periods and Martin Brodeur made 33 saves as the Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center Saturday afternoon, 4-1.
The loss was the Flyers' first at home against New Jersey, as they had won the previous three games of the season series at the Wachovia Center. The teams have two games left against one another on April 13 and 16 at Continental Airlines Arena where the Flyers are 0-1-1 this season.
Philadelphia still trails the New York Rangers by four points in the Atlantic Division with one game in hand.
Leading 1-0 after 20 minutes the Devils struck for two more in the second period. Scott Gomez took a soft shot from the point that went off of Derian Hatcher's leg and through the five-hole of Antero Niittymaki at 14:07.
Jason Wiemer's wrist shot from the face off circle got inside the far post just 1:20 later to give the Devils a commanding three-goal cushion at the second intermission.
Brodeur did his part to keep the Flyers off the board, robbing Niko Dimitrakos early in the second period gloving a rebound attempt in what looked like an open net.
"We were one chance and out. We didn't have any second or third opportunities," said Ken Hitchcock.
Simon Gagne's 42nd goal of the season on the power play at 3:44 of the third period gave the Flyers some life, but it was all the scoring they would get on the afternoon in dropping their second straight game after a four-game winning streak. Sergei Brylin's goal at 16:18 on the rebound of a shot by Patrik Elias capped the scoring.
New Jersey struck first on a three-on-one rush. Grant Marshall faked a shot to freeze Niittymaki as well as defenseman Mike Rathje and then slid the puck to John Madden for an easy tip-in 4:33 into the game.
"We gave up an odd man rush to start the game and it ended up in our net," said Hitchcock. "You don't want to start a game that way."
"Obviously that team thrives on taking the lead," said Hatcher. "We have to learn to be able to come back. The way we played, we did some good things, but not enough."
The Flyers held the territorial advantage for most of the rest of the period, but Brodeur was able to freeze several loose pucks in the crease including a wrap around by Donald Brashear with less than two minutes to go.
The Flyers begin a three-game road trip against the New York Islanders on Sunday afternoon (1:00 p.m., CSN), and continue with the Rangers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m., OLN).
"We need to move on to tomorrow and not dwell on this," said Mike Knuble. "We have two huge games coming up."
FLYERS NOTES Michal Handzus played in his 500th career NHL game. … Petr Nedved left the game in the second period with a right groin strain and did not return. … Branko Radivojevic returned to the lineup after sitting out the last four games, while Brian Savage missed it due to personal reasons. … The Flyers are now 5-5-2 in their orange third jerseys. … Peter Forsberg, who assisted on Gagne's goal, has a five-game point streak with two goals and four assists over that span.