Adam Larsson and David Clarkson scored their first goals of the playoffs as the New Jersey Devils posted a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday to level their Eastern Conference semi--finals series at 1-1.
Larsson and Clarkson scored consecutive goals in the third period to rally the Devils past the Flyers and make up for the absence of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils played without their regular-season leading scorer because of a lower body injury.
Travis Zajac added a late goal to make it 3-1, and Bryce Salvador scored a late empty-netter for the Devils.
Game 3 is today in New Jersey.
Matt Read scored 2 minutes, 53 seconds into the game to give the Flyers hope they could jump to a commanding series lead. Instead, the offense went into a funk and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov could not protect the advantage.
Even without Kovalchuk, the Devils did what they wanted against Bryzgalov, taking close shots and dominating the play in the Flyers’ zone.
Bryzgalov, who signed a US$51 million, nine-year deal last summer, was especially stout in the second period when he bailed out the Flyers offense with a 12-save period. The Flyers went more than 18 minutes in the period before taking a shot on Martin Brodeur.
“I didn’t sense frustration. We were comfortable with how we played the first two periods,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “And it was just a matter of keeping it going in the third, and the goals came.”
Kovalchuk’s injury opened a roster spot for Larsson, a rookie defenseman, to be activated. His shot from the circle beat Bryzgalov on his glove side early in the third for the equalizer.
“Down a goal, third period, and it was huge,” DeBoer said of the rookie’s goal. “I feel great for Larsson. He’s been out a few games, and he responded.”
Clarkson made it 2-1 minutes later when he scored off a rebound.
The Nashville Predators have suspended Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-final series against the Phoenix Coyotes after the team’s top two scorers violated team rules.
The Predators did not disclose what rules were broken that led to the ban for yesterday’s game, but said the decision on whether they would play in tomorrow’s Game 4 would be up to head coach Barry Trotz.
“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things,” general manager David Poile said in a statement on Tuesday. “We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”
The Predators are trailing the best-of-seven series 2-0.
Radulov, who rejoined -Nashville ahead of the playoffs after spending four seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, is the team’s top playoff scorer with six points. Kostitsyn is second with four points.
Despite the high stakes, Poile said the decision to suspend the two players was an easy one.
“Our creed has always been to try to do the right thing,” Poile told reporters. “I try to do that in my personal life, so I certainly should do this in my business life.”