Still waiting for a victory six games into the 2008-09 season, the Philadelphia Flyers would have gladly settled for any sort of win.
Beating longtime nemesis Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, though, likely made it a little sweeter.
One day after leaving New Jersey with a victory for the first time since 2004, the Flyers and Devils will conclude their home-and-home set Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia (1-3-3) made it to the Eastern Conference finals last season before being ousted by Pittsburgh in five games, but couldn't carry the momentum of its surprise success into the early portion of the new schedule. The Flyers lost their first six games - three after regulation - by allowing 27 goals, including 16 in their previous three contests.
They hadn't had much trouble scoring, tallying 10 total goals in a pair of overtime losses to San Jose, but facing Brodeur and the Devils (5-2-0) on back-to-back nights was no ordinary task. Brodeur was 18-3-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and three shutouts in his last 22 starts against Philadelphia, and the Flyers hadn't won in New Jersey in their last 12 trips.
In addition, Brodeur had allowed only eight goals in six games with two shutouts this season.
The start for the Flyers on Friday looked familiar, as they trailed 3-2 after the first period. But goaltender Martin Biron didn't allow anything the rest of the way, and Philadelphia scored four unanswered to win 6-3, just hours after finding out center Daniel Briere would miss a month with a torn abdominal muscle.
"It's been a frustrating last couple of weeks, we've been putting forth the effort and not getting the results," said center Mike Richards, who had a career-high four assists. "You try to give it your all every night and it feels good all the hard work paid off."
Richards has certainly been doing his part. The Flyers' captain has four goals and six assists in seven games, and he's recorded four goals and 13 assists in his last 10 contests versus the Devils.
"Mike was all over the place, being the player that we want him to be, and he wants to be," said Biron, who came into the game with a 5.00 GAA. "When a guy like that gets going, it gives everybody confidence."
The Flyers certainly needed some confidence against Brodeur, who has made 48 consecutive regular-season starts for New Jersey dating to Jan. 8. Coach Brent Sutter mentioned the possibility of giving Brodeur a day off and turning to backup Kevin Weekes on Saturday, but later said he expects Brodeur to be in goal again.
"We know we'll have to play a more intelligent game (Saturday)," Sutter told the Devils' official Web site. "It wasn't what we've been doing the past six games."
While the Flyers' main issue has been letting too many goals in, New Jersey's problem through its first four games was a lack of offensive consistency. The Devils have looked much better in their last three contests, though, scoring 11 goals, including three from Zach Parise.
Parise notched his team-leading fifth of the season in the first period Friday and added two assists, but his success against the Flyers is nothing new. Parise has 11 goals and 12 assists in 24 career games versus Philadelphia.
The teams split four meetings at the Wachovia Center in 2007-08. Biron recorded shutouts in the Flyers' wins, while the Devils scored 13 combined goals in their victories.