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Special teams power Flyers past Devils

by Brian Hunter
Apparently the New Jersey Devils failed to read the memo: Get into a specialty-teams battle with the Philadelphia Flyers at your own risk.

Jeff Carter scored his 40th goal of the season 55 seconds into the third period to break a tie as the Flyers went 3-for-3 on the power play and also killed off seven of the eight shorthanded situations they faced to claim a 4-2 victory over the Devils on Monday night at the Wachovia Center.

Daniel Briere had a goal and an assist with the man advantage, Mike Knuble added a power-play goal and Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen each had a pair of power-play assists as the Flyers won and scored multiple PP goals for the third straight game. Gagne capped the scoring with an even-strength goal for a three-point night.

"It seemed a week ago we were in a funk we were trying to get out," Briere said. "Teams were creeping up on us in the standings so this is a big step in the right direction for us."

Martin Biron finished with 32 saves and Philadelphia closed to within seven points of New Jersey for the Atlantic Division lead with a game still in hand. The Flyers hold fourth place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of Carolina, which moved into fifth with an overtime win at Florida on Monday.

"I think we played pretty well around our crease and had a sense of urgency in the defensive zone," said Biron, serenaded with "Marty! Marty! Marty!" chants from the fans after several of his key stops.

"Last week we had three or four games where we gave up 45 shots a game, and then the last two -- yesterday in Pittsburgh (a 3-1 win), it was just under 30, today just about 30. That's the way we've got to play to win games, when we play defensively and we hunker down in front of our net."

Brendan Shanahan and Jamie Langenbrunner scored for the Devils, who missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth and have dropped three of four since Martin Brodeur broke Patrick Roy's all-time wins record. Brodeur made 21 saves in losing for only the third time since his return from injury, but for the second day in a row following a 4-1 loss Sunday afternoon in Boston.

"We gave them a lot of room out there. They found ways to attack the net and get goals," Brodeur said. "It was kind of obvious that we had some breakdowns in the open ice. We gave up some untimely goals."

Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador was penalized for holding with one minute left in the second period, and the Flyers started off the third still up a man. Carter got his stick on Timonen's drive from the point, knocking it past Brodeur for a 3-2 lead. Gagne converted a Claude Giroux feed at 3:01 for his 30th goal of the season.

"It's cool," Carter said of reaching 40 goals for the first time in his career. "It's obviously nice to be able to help the team out and score some goals. It's definitely a good feeling. It's a good feat for myself and help from some good teammates."

New Jersey had its chances to close the gap, as Daniel Carcillo was assessed a double high-sticking minor at 8:21 and Matt Carle sent the puck over the glass at 15:32 for a delay of game penalty. But the Flyers held the Devils to just eight shots in the third and Biron got all of them.

"We really feel like we're starting to get into that groove," Carter said. "We're playing solid D, Marty's standing on his head making saves when we need them and guys are leaving it all out there."

The Devils played without the franchise's all-time leading scorer, Patrik Elias, who missed the game with lower-body soreness. However, Shanahan returned after missing the Boston game for "maintenance" purposes and gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 9:42 of the first period a centering pass by Dainius Zubrus struck his skate in front and deflected in past Biron. The goal stood after a video review confirmed Shanahan had not kicked the puck into the net.

A boarding penalty to Bobby Holik gave the Flyers their first power play later in the first, and Timonen faked a slap shot from the point before passing to Briere just outside the crease. He punched it past Brodeur with 4:03 left in the period, tying the score.

Briere then set up Hartnell's goal at 4:45 of the second, which came 36 seconds after a holding the stick penalty to Mike Rupp. Briere controlled the puck in the right circle and got Brodeur out of position before threading a feed to Hartnell for an easy tap-in.

Langenbrunner made it 2-2 at 9:58 and helped the Devils finally break through on the power play. He scored from the slot following a too-many-men penalty on the Flyers for his career-high 25th of the season.

"It's obviously nice to be able to help the team out and score some goals. It's definitely a good feeling. It's a good feat for myself and help from some good teammates." -- Jeff Carter on reaching the 40-goal mark

"We made some mistakes on special teams and gave them too many chances," Langenbrunner said. "We've got to be able to kill penalties."

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

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