PHILADELPHIA (AP)—A pair of veteran backliners made the difference on a night a low-scoring rookie defenseman turned into a passing specialist.
Alexandre Picard set a Flyers record for rookies with five assists. The first-year defenseman had been scoreless in 19 games and came in with two goals and six assists in 36 games.
“I had a bad 63 minutes, so I had to have at least one good shift,” Lukowich said. “Hopefully the coach will forget about most of the bad shifts I had. I felt like I was trying to do too much. It was one of those games. I just felt I had to contribute better.”
“Some of those goals, I didn’t have anything to do with,” Picard said. “Peter (Forsberg) put it right there and I took the shot.”
The Flyers haven’t won at home since beating former coach Ken Hitchcock in his debut with Columbus on Nov. 24, and have just three victories there in 24 games.
With Martin Brodeur off the ice for an extra skater, Parise took a behind-the-net pass from Langenbrunner and scored his 19th goal to force overtime.
The Devils improved to 5-0 against Philadelphia. The division rivals usually battle each other for first place, but are polar opposites this season. The Flyers have the NHL’s fewest wins (12) and points (31), and are sure to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1994, while New Jersey is fighting for the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We see each other so often that each game gets more interesting,” Zajac said.
Just 40 seconds after Knuble’s second goal on the power play gave the Flyers a 4-3 lead, Langenbrunner tied it with his 17th. Langenbrunner’s shot from the left circle bounced off Niittymaki’s glove and went in.
Forsberg set up Knuble’s go-ahead goal with a perfect, cross-ice pass to Picard. Knuble redirected Picard’s shot past Brodeur for his 19th.
“It’s frustrating,” Forsberg said. “We played well, but we screwed up at the end. It’s hard to lose this way.”
Afanasenkov scored off his own rebound early in the third period to tie it 3-3. It was his first goal since Philadelphia claimed him off waivers from Tampa Bay on Dec. 30.
Elias put the Devils ahead for the first time just past the midpoint of the second period. He backhanded his rebound in to make it 3-2.
Thirteen seconds after a roughing penalty on Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher gave New Jersey a two-man advantage, Zajac slipped one in to tie it at 2 in the second period.
Knuble’s first goal on the power play gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead early in that frame. The Flyers took a 1-0 lead when Eager redirected a slap shot by Picard past a screened Brodeur. Zajac tied it less than three minutes later.
Brodeur started his 22nd straight game. The 34-year-old, two-time Vezina Trophy winner has started 50 of 52 games this season and 93 of 96, dating to last season. He has each of New Jersey’s 31 victories this season. … Devils RW Brian Gionta played in his 300th NHL game. … The rookie Zajac recorded his first two-goal game. … Forsberg earned his 603rd career assist on Knuble’s first goal to pass Kirk Muller for 68th on the NHL list.