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New Jersey Devils 2, Philadelphia Flyers 3 FINAL @NHLdotcom

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Forget a repeat. The New Jersey Devils might not get past the first round.

Alexei Zhamnov scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the defending Stanley Cup champions 3-2 Saturday night to take a 2-0 series lead.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference matchup is Monday night in New Jersey.

``They kept the home ice. Now, we've got to go back and keep ours,'' Devils center Scott Gomez said. ``Our confidence is still pretty high right now.''

Jan Hrdina and Brian Gionta scored for the Devils, who didn't lead in either game in Philadelphia. Mark Recchi and Mattias Timander had the Flyers' other goals.

New Jersey hasn't come back from a 2-0 series deficit since winning four straight against Boston in the 1994 conference semifinals after losing the first two at home. The Devils rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Flyers in the 2000 conference finals.

``We realize we're going against the Stanley Cup champions, a tremendous team,'' Flyers forward Jeremy Roenick said. ``If we're not poised and composed, they'd walk all over us.''

Robert Esche, making just his second playoff start, again outplayed Martin Brodeur, stopping 24 shots. He had 37 saves in Thursday night's 3-2 victory.

Brodeur, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner who has led New Jersey to three championships in the past nine years, again was ordinary. He allowed three goals on 18 shots.

``They're making good dumps and I can't play the puck at all,'' Brodeur said. ``I felt good. I didn't get beaten on any clean shots. When you lose by one goal, you always hopefully made the big save, but that didn't happen the first two games, so hopefully I've got to be better the rest of the series if we're going to go anywhere.''

Less than three minutes after Hrdina scored the tying goal, Zhamnov stuffed a shot past Brodeur to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Tony Amonte set up the goal with a shot from outside the right circle that went around the net to Roenick, who took a shot that was stopped by Brodeur. But Zhamnov took a whack at the puck, slipping it through before Brodeur could control it.

``It was a cookie goal,'' Zhamnov said. ``I think Brodeur lost the puck.''

Timander made it 3-1 midway through the third period with a hard slap shot that sailed past Brodeur. Gionta cut it to 3-2 with 5:25 left, but the Flyers controlled play in the final minutes.

Playing again without All-Star defenseman Scott Stevens, still battling post-concussion syndrome, New Jersey's defense had trouble against Philadelphia's big forwards. John LeClair hit the side of the net on a shot that beat Brodeur in the first, and Sami Kapanen later missed the net on a point-blank shot.

Hrdina tied it at 1 with his second goal in two games early in the second period. Hrdina took a crisp pass from Jamie Langenbrunner, skated in alone and flipped it past Esche.

Recchi gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal in the first period. Recchi completed a tic-tac-toe passing play with Joni Pitkanen and Kim Johnsson by one-timing a shot over Brodeur's glove.

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock preached discipline to his team after New Jersey had four power plays to Philadelphia's one in the series opener. But the Flyers took two penalties in the first 10 minutes.

First, Keith Primeau was called for interference, even though it appeared Brodeur tripped him. Then Timander had a hooking penalty. The Flyers killed both penalties, and another one in the second period. During the Devils' last power play, Roenick was pulled down by Scott Niedermayer when he came in on a short-handed breakaway, but no penalty was called.

``We knew if we're going to have a chance, no matter what we did on the power play, we'd have to do a good job killing penalties,'' Hitchcock said. ``If we didn't do that, we'd be on edge in other parts of our game.''

The game ended with a scrum in front and behind the Flyers net, and Esche squared off with New Jersey forward Patrik Elias. The two exchanged shoves, but they were kept apart as Esche struggled to get his hands free of his glove and blocker.

``It was a lot more physical than Game 1,'' Primeau said. ``They tried to goad us into penalties, but we maintained our composure.''

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