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Devils must beat Flyers or their season is over

by Mike G. Morreale


(Philadelphia leads best-of-7 series 3-1)

Big story -- The Flyers received some bad news on Wednesday morning when they learned that forwards Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne are both out with foot injuries that will require surgery. General Manager Paul Holmgren said both players suffered injuries to their right foot during the team's 4-1 victory in Game 4 at WachoviaCenter. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said Ville Leino would be inserted into the lineup on Thursday but was noncommittal in naming a second forward.

Team Scope

-- After spotting the Devils a 1-0 lead for the second game in a row, the Flyers pulled out another victory before their hometown faithful, leaving the Devils on the brink of elimination. Carter scored his first two goals of the playoffs and Danny Briere scored his first in a 4-1 victory. Daniel Carcillo scored his second goal in two games as the Flyers continually frustrated the Devils to the point that the visitors were whistled for six third-period penalties, including a pair of misconducts. Goalie Brian Boucher turned aside 30 shots and now has an opportunity to atone for the 2000 playoff loss to the Devils, when, as a rookie, he and the Flyers couldn't hold a 3-1 series lead.

Devils -- The Flyers haven't been disciplined all series long, but the Devils haven't been able to make them pay -- and that failure is a big reason New Jersey goes home needing a win to prolong the series. The Devils are 4-for-24 on the power play after going 1-for-8 in Game 4. That just isn't good enough, and the Devils realize that.

To make matters worse, the New Jersey is being outworked and outplayed 5-on-5.

"It's hard to understand," coach Jacques Lemaire said of his team's play at full strength. "When it's time to get pucks to the net, it seems they hit a stick, hit a leg. You look at their goals, a lot of time it bounced back on their stick, and you know what, both teams are going to the net but maybe one is more intense around that net looking for pucks a little more than the other."

Who's hot -- Boucher is now 3-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average and .925 save percentage against what was supposed to be a more prolific offense for the Devils entering this year's postseason.

Injury report -- The loss of Gagne and Carter will put a crimp in the Flyers' offense. Holmgren said Carter is out indefinitely, while Gagne could be back in three weeks -- meaning he's almost certain to miss all of a second-round series, should the Flyers get that far. … New Jersey isn't reporting any injuries.

Stat pack -- The Devils are 3-6 in home playoff games since PrudentialCenter opened two years ago. … The Flyers are 6-for-23 (26.1 percent) on the power play in the series. The Devils were 13th in the regular season on the penalty kill at 82.8 percent; in four postseason games, they're just 73.9 percent.

Puck drop -- This is the Devils' season -- a loss will send them home early for the third year in a row.

"There's no pill for this. There's no pill," Lemaire said. "I think we have to be more consistent in our work, number one. We lost discipline in the second half of the third period (of Game 4), which we started to take penalties. Before that I thought we were fine most of the time. We've got to score more goals. We look at our top players and they have four or five, six shots on net, so they have to manage to get some goals."

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