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Flyers beat Devils for first victory

by John Kreiser
Every team in the NHL now has one victory this season. The Philadelphia Flyers were the last ones to get into the win column — and thanks to Mike Richards, they got their first victory in a very unlikely place.

The Flyers had lost 12 in a row in New Jersey, but they ended that streak as well as their six-game drought this season by stunning the Devils 6-3 at the Prudential Center on Friday night. Richards had a career-best four assists as Philadelphia snapped New Jersey's three-game winning streak.

"He was our leader tonight. It was a great effort from our captain," Flyers coach John Stevens said after Philadelphia ended a six-game victory drought in a city where it usually struggles — the Flyers hadn't won in New Jersey during the regular season since March 9, 2004.

The Flyers trailed 3-2 after one period, but Richards wouldn't let them lose.

"Mike was all over the place, being the player that we want him to be, and he wants to be," said goaltender Martin Biron, who came into the game with a 5.00 GAA. "When a guy like that gets going, it gives everybody confidence."

Scott Hartnell scored twice for the Flyers (1-3-3), who ended a skid that matched the longest winless streak from the start of a season. They were 0-4-1-1 in 1999-2000.

Richards set up four of the Flyers' last five goals, more than making up for the absence of Daniel Briere. The Flyers found out before the game that Briere could miss as much as a month after tearing an abdominal muscle that will need to be surgically repaired.

"It was a good night, first win of the year and we played well," said Richards, whose previous career high was three assists. "I know I said this a lot lately: We deserved to win tonight. We played a good game right from the get-go and we finished the game."

Martin Brodeur had his poorest night of the season, allowing five goals after surrendering just nine in New Jersey's first six games. He stopped only 22 of 27 shots, though his defense left him helpless on more than one occasion.

"They were a desperate team," Brodeur said. "They outworked us. We got outplayed in our own building."

Devils coach Brent Sutter wasn't happy with his team's effort.

"They played a very desperate game and played well," he said. "They deserved to win tonight. We weren't good enough to win tonight."

The first period looked more like a track meet, with the teams combining for five goals.

New Jersey's Travis Zajac got his first of the season by banking a shot off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn 47 seconds after the opening faceoff. Jeff Carter tied the game just over a minute later with a great shot from the right circle after skating up the ice with a breakout pass by Biron.

Mike Knuble put the Flyers ahead at 11:25 when he broke in from the right circle and beat Brodeur while Devils rookie Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was serving a five-minute penalty for boarding. Richards gave him the pass that set up the goal.

But Dainius Zubrus tied the game less than four minutes later, scoring from alone in front on a power play, and Zach Parise stuffed a sloppy rebound past Martin Biron with 19 seconds left in the period.

However, unlike recent games, the Flyers tightened up on defense after the first period — and the Devils didn't.

Simon Gagne tied the game for the third time at 11:57 with a power-play goal, beating Brodeur from in front after Knuble tipped Richards' shot from the left circle.

Richards did the work on Scott Hartnell's go-ahead goal at 16:55, skating behind the net and firing a shot at Brodeur. Hartnell outmuscled two Devils to put in the rebound.
Joffrey Lupul beat Brodeur with a wrist shot at 11:22 of the third period, and Hartnell hit the empty net with 1:56 to play.

The Flyers took the bus back down the New Jersey Turnpike for Saturday's rematch as winners for the first time this season.

"It's been a frustrating last couple of weeks, we've been putting forth the effort and not getting the results," Richards said. "You try to give it your all every night and it feels good all the hard work paid off."

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report

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