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Devils take 3-1 series lead over Flyers

The SportsXchange

NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur's teammates gave him an easy night to celebrate his 40th birthday.

Dainius Zubrus' goal with 2:13 left in the second period helped the New Jersey Devils rally from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 Sunday night and take a 3-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.

Marek Zidlicky had a goal and assist, Petr Sykora also scored and Zubrus added an empty-net goal.

Brodeur, the four-time Vezina Trophy winner, didn't have to work too hard. The Flyers registered just 22 shots.

"I feel pretty good," Brodeur said. "I woke up this morning and I felt the same like 39, so that's a good thing."

With a swarming defense and opportunistic offense in front of him, Brodeur doesn't have to steal games the way he did when he helped the Devils win Stanley Cup titles in 1995, 2000 and 2003.

"The lineup communication between the players and coaches has been great all year and in the playoffs it's been even greater," Brodeur said. "Everybody is on the same page, and that makes a big difference."

Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux scored 1:50 apart in the first period to give the Flyers a lead they couldn't hold.

Ilya Bryzgalov had 39 saves, keeping the Flyers in the game.

"We're letting Bryz play by himself," Giroux said. "If it wasn't for him, we would've gotten killed. It's frustrating. We need to find a way to play better. Looks like they want it more than us. It's frustrating because the whole season we've been outworking other teams and now it's the other way around.

"The whole game, they are all over us. It's unacceptable the way we're playing right now."

Game 5 of this Eastern Conference semifinals series is Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

The Devils have won three straight after losing Game 1 in overtime, but the Flyers have shown they can comeback in recent history. They overcame a 3-0 series deficit to beat Boston in the conference semis two years ago.

"That's a comeback team," Brodeur said. "They've shown it all year, they've shown it in the past. We know it can change quick."

Zubrus snapped a wrister past Bryzgalov after a behind-the-net pass from Adam Henrique for the only goal of the second period. It was Zubrus' first goal since Game 1 of their first-round series against Florida.

Hartnell gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with his third goal of the playoffs just seven seconds into a power play. Wayne Simmonds and Hartnell were double-stacked in front of Brodeur when Giroux fired a slap shot. Hartnell deflected it past Brodeur to put Philadelphia ahead 1-0 for the third time in four games.

Giroux then scored a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0. Giroux took a breakout pass from Max Talbot, fought off a defender and beat Brodeur with a backhander for his eighth goal of the playoffs.

On the same power play, the Devils answered with Sykora's goal to cut the deficit in half. Zidlicky sent a crossing pass to Sykora, whose shot hit off Bryzgalov's skate and bounced off the post before going in.

Zidlicky tied it at 2-2 with 1:51 left in the first. Bryce Salvador made a perfect centering pass to Zidlicky streaking down the middle. He put his stick on it and redirected the pass into an open net for his first playoff goal in 25 career games.

"They have so much skill," Salvador said. "We are trying to take away their space and not let them cycle to the puck. It seems to be working."

The Flyers hardly look like the same team that knocked off heavily favored Pittsburgh in six games in Round 1. They've been thoroughly outplayed by the Devils, who dominated Game 4 after falling behind early.

"Right now we are forcing things," Flyers forward Danny Briere said. "I don't know if it's panic or too much pressure or what is going on. We have to find a way to make better plays. We are making things way too difficult on ourselves."

Notes: The Devils rallied from a 3-1 deficit against the Flyers in the 2000 conference finals en route to winning the second of their three Stanley Cups. ...

Rookie center Sean Couturier played for Philadelphia after leaving Game 3 with a lower body injury. ... The Flyers are 1-14 all time in series they trail 3-1. ... Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros remained out of the lineup. He hasn't played since March 1, but has been skating and his status was up in the air. ... Devils forward Tim Sestito made his playoff debut, replacing Ryan Carter on the fourth line. ... The team that scored first has lost all four games.
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