My, that looked easy.
The Flyers _ whose late-season fade had started to conjure memories of the infamous '64 Phillies _ finally put together three solid periods Sunday. They got three goals from defensemen for the first time since 2005, killed all six shorthanded situations, and ended a five-game losing streak by defeating the visiting New Jersey Devils, 5-1.
“We took the initiative on offense and got a full effort,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
Now they need to repeat that effort in the final six games of the regular season. They don't play again until Thursday against the host New York Islanders.
The Flyers, who moved from No. 8 to No. 6 in the Eastern Conference, haven't won two straight since March 7-9 _ 11 games ago.
For what it's worth, the Flyers are 13-2 against the New York area teams _ 5-1 vs. the New Jersey Devils, 5-0 against the New York Islanders, and 3-1 against the New York Rangers.
The line of Danny Briere, Simon Gagne and Ville Leino was dominating Sunday. Ditto the Flyers’ penalty-killing units, led by Ian Laperriere and Blair Betts.
Goalie Brian Boucher outplayed the legendary Martin Brodeur, who was replaced after two periods and continued to struggle against the Flyers.
Defensemen Kimmo Timonen, Lukas Krajicek and Matt Carle were among the Flyers' scorers. It ws the first time three of their defensemen had scored in a game since Oct. 14, 2005, when Derian Hatcher, Joni Pitkanen and Mike Rathje had goals in a 6-5 OT win in Pittsburgh.
The Flyers had gone 13 straight games without scoring more than three goals, but Carle started the onslaught with a goal in the opening 53 seconds.
"They were ready right from the start," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "They played a great game. For us, it looked like we were a little tired from last night; a little lack of energy, not as good with the puck, not a lot of support on the ice. They got some goals on a couple deflections, and they got some goals from their defensemen, which helps.”
The Flyers built a 2-0 first-period lead. Unlike their recent home loss to Minnesota _ when they coughed up a 3-1 advantage _ they continued to build on it.
"They’re obviously a desperate team battling for a playoff spot, and they played like that," Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner said. "We didn’t have that same desperation and it showed.”
Breakaways. The Briere line combined for six points and was plus-6.....Braydon Coburn was plus-3.....The Flyers blocked 26 shots, with five players blocking three apiece....The Flyers had lost seven of their previous eight games.
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An NHL official on Sunday night defended the referees' decision to disallow Simon Gagne's second-period goal in Pittsburgh Saturday.
Gagne scored to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead, but more than a minute later _ after a video of the goal was shown on the arena scoreboard and Penguins fans protested loudly _ it was taken away.
Referee Dan Marouelli originally pointed to the goal, signifying Gagne's score counted. But after the Penguins fans moaned when they wached the replay, Marouelli conferred with the other referee, Brian Pochmara. Pochmara was the trailing referee on the play, and he convinced Marouelli _ who was next to the play _ that the goal should not count because the Flyers' Ville Leino had inadvertently bumped into goalie Marc-Andre Fleury a split second before it was scored.
Pochmara said Leino was not pushed into Fleury, and thus ruled that it was incidental contact, according to John Dellapina, the NHL's media relations director.
Dellapina said that the referees never looked at the replay before reversing the call. That would have been illegal, he said. He said it took them so long to decide because they were having a discussion about what had transpired.
If Leino had been pushed into Fleury by a Penguins player, the goal would have counted.
Pittsburgh won the game, 4-1.