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Flyers Suffer First Preseason Loss to Devils, 5-3

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

East Rutherford, NJ – John Madden broke a third period tie to help lead the New Jersey Devils past the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3.

A goal by Mike Richards just 53 seconds into the third period tied the game after Philadelphia trailed 3-2 entering the frame, but Madden scored New Jersey's third power play goal of the night when his one-timer on a feed by Jamie Langenbrunner beat goaltender Antero Niittymaki, who played the entire game for the Flyers.

An empty net goal by Langenbrunner in the final minute capped the scoring.

Philadelphia, which lost for the first time and is now 5-1 in the preseason, will face the Washington Capitals on Saturday night to wrap up the exhibition schedule. In that game, Peter Forsberg will be making his debut in a Flyers jersey.

The Devils opened the scoring at 12:12 on the power play with Chris Therien in the penalty box on a delay of game minor. Scott Gomez found Vladimir Malakhov in the slot, and he redirected the pass from Gomez past Niittymaki.

In a similar situation six minutes later, New Jersey increased its lead. Therien was in the box once again on his third minor of the period, this time for holding. Gomez won an offensive zone faceoff right to the former Flyer Malakhov, and he scored on a slap shot.

I think those penalties changed the momentum of the game, said Ken Hitchcock. We were really playing well at that time. We fought back, and I thought for what we had here we did a great job.

New Jersey finished the period with 12 shots on goal to the Flyers' four. The first 20 minutes also featured a couple of fights. Turner Stevenson, who spent the last four seasons in New Jersey, fought the Devils' Cam Janssen in the first period and there was also a rematch of the Donald Brashear and Krzysztof Oliwa fight from the night before, with Brashear getting the decisive advantage.

Brashear also bloodied the Devils' Grant Marshall in the moments following Madden's goal.

Philadelphia cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second period on a power play of its own, when Eric Desjardins ripped a shot past Martin Brodeur, who was contending with heavy traffic in front of the net.

The teams traded goals before the end of the frame. Brian Gionta, stationed in front of the net, got just enough of his stick on a centering pass by Paul Martin for a tip-in at the 17:00 mark. Just 28 seconds later, Michal Handzus found the rebound of a shot by Brashear to make it 3-2 at the intermission.

Handzus spent some time during the game playing wing instead of center, where he has spent most of his NHL career.

I think it was alright. I played there in juniors when they needed me to, so it's just a matter of getting used to it, said Handzus.

Brodeur played the entire game for the Devils.

A couple of Flyers were making their preseason debuts as Pat Kavanagh and Stefan Ruzicka were in the lineup. Among the healthy scratches for Philadelphia were Robert Esche, Derian Hatcher, Mike Rathje, Simon Gagne and Brian Savage.

Mike Knuble left the game in the first period and did not return. … Jeff Carter, who left Thursday night's game with a sprained right elbow, may play in Saturday's preseason finale in Washington. … The Flyers lost the post-game shootout, 2-1. Ruzicka converted for Philadelphia, but Joni Pitkanen and Jon Sim both failed in their attempts.
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