Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Flyers scored five unanswered goals, including three in the third period, to pick up their first win of the season with a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at the Wachovia Center.
With the game tied 2-2 entering the third period, it didn't take long for the Flyers to take their first lead of the game. Mike Richards found Jon Sim cutting to the net, and his quick his wrist shot beat Martin Brodeur high to the glove side just 39 seconds after the opening faceoff.
Sim, who led the NHL in preseason goals with eight, registered his first as a Flyer.
The Flyers took a 4-2 lead on a goal by Michal Handzus. Richards tallied his second helper of the evening when he sent a cross-ice pass to Handzus, who deposited the puck at 6:09. The goal came a split second after a hooking penalty to Scott Gomez had expired.
A shorthanded goal by Turner Stevenson on a two-on-one rush with Keith Primeau capped the scoring at 9:04, and improved the Flyers' record to 1-1.
We were really coming on the last six or seven minutes of the first period, and I think we stayed with it and played physical, said Ken Hitchcock. Tonight felt like a hockey game. It felt like a real game. There was anger and intensity with two teams that respect, but don't like each other, but it was a hockey game tonight. I 'm sure some of the penalties, we were yelling and screaming and they were yelling and screaming, but it was a bloody hockey game tonight. It wasn't a track meet.
Antero Niittymaki improved his career NHL record to 4-0, two of which have come against New Jersey. Niittymaki made 26 saves while Brodeur suffered the loss allowing five goals on 33 shots.
I felt pretty good. As I got more shots, I got more comfortable, said Niittymaki. It was actually pretty easy in the third period once we had a three-goal lead.
New Jersey scored the only goal of the first period on the power play. Paul Martin took a slap shot from the point that was deflected by Jamie Langenbrunner at 3:07.
The Flyers had two great chances to tie it up generated by Brian Savage. He hit the post with a blast from the faceoff circle, and then before the next stoppage of play, an early whistle nullified a backhanded shot by Savage from the slot that got past the goal line, much to the dismay of the sellout crowd.
The Devils took a 2-0 lead in the second period, again on the power play. Alexander Mogilny took a slap shot from a sharp angle that got by Niittymaki at 4:21.
New Jersey finished 2-for-9 on the power play, while Philadelphia was 0-for-5 with a man advantage.
Simon Gagne's second and third goals of the season tied the game later in the second period. Peter Forsberg slid a pass through the crease to Gagne for an easy tap in goal just past the midway point of the game, after Brodeur stopped Forsberg at the side of the net.
Gagne's second was a little more complicated, as he took a shot on goal with Devils defenseman Richard Matvichuk falling on top of Brodeur. Although it did not appear to be a goal at the time, a lengthy replay showed that Matvichuk brought the puck back across the goal line at 18:48 and the game was tied 2-2 at the second intermission.
It's great; it builds a lot of confidence for the team, said Gagne. Coming back from 2-0 against one of the best defensive teams in the league gives you a lot of confidence. It shows the character we have, especially so early in the season.
The Flyers play their first road game of the season in Toronto on Tuesday before returning home next Friday and Saturday against Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders.
FLYERS NOTES Branko Radivojevic was a healthy scratch, while Patrick Sharp played in his first game of the season. … Dennis Seidenberg remains sidelined with a concussion. Randy Jones took his place on defense. … Mike Rathje picked up his first point as a Flyer, assisting on the Handzus goal. … Forsberg and Gagne combined for 11 of the Flyers' 33 shots on goal. … Mike Knuble had two assists.