NEWARK, N.J. - The New Jersey Devils finally found a way to beat the Philadelphia Flyers.
They just played like the Flyers, tough, physical and a little chippy, too. Dainius Zubrus powered his way in front and scored off his own rebound with 4:04 to play and the Devils beat Flyers 5-3 on Friday night to even the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series at a game apiece.
"This was huge," said Devils centre Patrik Elias, who got his third assist on the winner. "Obviously, they've got to feel good about coming home with the series tied. They are going to be hard games in there. They play really physical. They feed off the crowd. We just have to stay focused on the job we have to do and we'll be OK."
Zach Parise, Colin White, Andy Greene and Ilya Kovalchuk also scored and Martin Brodeur stopped 26 shots to help New Jersey avoid the death sentence of losing the first two games at home in the best-of-seven series.
Aaron Asham, Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger scored for the Flyers, headed home for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday.
Brian Boucher had no chance on Zubrus' goal, which was his first post-season tally since 2004.
It also allowed New Jersey to beat the Flyers for only the second time in eight games this season.
"I feel good," Zubrus said. "I feel like we just won a big game. It's big. It's huge because we are going into their building and it's tough place to play and they are a good team. I knew this wasn't to be going to be easy. We had a tough time against them this season. But if we play our game, I believe in our lineup."
Zubrus powered his way around the net past defenceman Ryan Parent and sent a shot on goal that Boucher stopped. Parise and Zubrus both swung at the rebound and the puck went into the net.
"We were cycling in their end. Somehow, I had the puck behind the net," Zubrus said. "I had a half a step on my guy so I thought I could take it to the net. I came on my backhand and tried to shoot it. The puck was right there afterwards. Zach was skating into it. I think he whacked it. I tried to put my stick on it as well. It was a big goal for us."
Initially, it appeared Parise got the game winner.
"I don't know," Parise said. "We scored it, that's the most important."
Kovalchuk added an empty-net goal as the Devils won despite giving the Flyers seven power plays.
"They were trying to play more intense, more emotional, more physical, and a few more penalties were a byproduct of it," Pronger said. "We need to continue to turn the other cheek and play smart. If they want to take penalties, great, but we know they've got a potent power play. We want to keep them off the power play as much as we can. We did a pretty good job today."
Brodeur kept the score tied until Zubrus' goal. Brodeur stopped a break-in by Daniel Carcillo with 8:30 to play and seconds later stopped a 10-foot shot by Ian Laperriere off a great setup by Mike Richards.
"I don't know if I'm satisfied," Richards said after the Flyers gained home-ice advantage with a split in New Jersey. "I thought we played extremely well. It would've been nice to win it, but they played desperate, too. It was just a good hockey game."
Kovalchuk, who has been pressing for goals, had a great opportunity to put New Jersey ahead with 5:30 to go. He broke into the zone on a 2-on-1 and missed the net with his shot.
This game was a little more feistier than the series opener and there were a lot more goals.
The Devils jumped in front 1-0 and the lead changed hands twice before Pronger scored his second power-play goal of the series to tie the game at 3-all.
Pronger's goal came with the Flyers skating 4-on-3 and the big defenceman parked himself right in front of Brodeur and easily tipped a shot by Kimmo Timonen between the goaltender's pads.
Trailing 2-1 entering the second period, the Devils took a 3-2 lead on a pair of goals by their defencemen.
White tied it at 2 early in the period with a shot from the top of the left circle that Boucher probably should have stopped. It got between his arm and body, hit off the post and went into the net for his second career playoff goal in 108 games.
Greene put New Jersey ahead 3-2 at 13:25 by coming down from the point to redirecting an Elias pass with New Jersey on its only power play of the period.
The Flyers had the extra skater four times in the middle period and Pronger converted when Greene was called for interference near the Devils bench when the puck was deep in the Philadelphia zone.
The Devils actually took advantage of the Flyers' power play early in the game. Flyers defenceman Matt Carle lost the puck in the offensive zone and Elias sprang Parise for a breakaway goal on a backhander at 2:45.
Asham tied it 7 minutes later by slamming home a cross-ice pass from Giroux. Rookie James van Riemsdyk picked Paul Martin near the edge of the net to free up Giroux and Asham found himself alone when Martin Skoula came across to help Martin.
Giroux put the Flyers ahead 3-2 with 4:30 left in the opening period, tipping a shot by Carle past Brodeur.
NOTES: Devils rookie D Matthew Corrente made his NHL playoff debut in Game 2, playing right-wing. Rod Pelley sat. ... Veteran LW Jay Pandolfo was scratched for the second straight game. ... The Flyers made one lineup change, playing D Ryan Parent and sitting D Lukas Krajicek. ... The game was a sellout with 17,625 attending.