NHL Playoffs 2012: 4 Keys to Victory for New Jersey Devils in Game 3 vs. Flyers
After a dramatic Game 1 overtime victory, Philadelphia possessed all the momentum in the series. However, the Devils made sure their Atlantic division rivals knew this series was not going to be a cake-walk.
The Devils outplayed the Flyers in all aspects of Tuesday night's Game 2. Even when going down 1-0 on an early first period goal by Philadelphia's Matt Read, the boys from Jersey remained unphased. The Devils stuck to their game plan and eventually erupted in the third period, netting four goals against Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Here are four factors that will lead to another New Jersey victory in Game 3.
Clarkson Must Continue to Produce
A 30-goal scorer during the regular season, David Clarkson waited until Tuesday night to find the back of the net this postseason—and it could not have come at a better time.
The 28-year-old Mimico, Ontario native must continue to contribute offensively in order for the Devils to have continued success against Philadelphia.
Contribution from Clarkson in the offensive end moves the Devils one step closer in their attempt to match the offensive depth of the Flyers.
If Number 23 can record a goal in Game 3, look for the Devils to come away with another victory.
Defense Must Remain Solid
Game 2 was arguably the Devils' best defensive showing of the playoffs so far.
In order to counter the strong offensive attack of Philadelphia, New Jersey's play in their own zone must remain strong. The Flyers were held to only 11 shots after the first period in Game 2.
The Devils' defensive core did more than just prevent goals; they scored them as well. 19-year-old Swedish rookie Adam Larsson scored his first ever NHL postseason goal only a day after being inserted into the line-up. Also, assistant captain Bryce Salvador sealed the game with his empty-net, shorthanded goal with around two minutes remaining.
If New Jersey's defense can continue to play physically and provide a timely scoring punch, the Flyers will find themselves frustrated once again in Game 3.
Keep Shooting on Bryzgalov
For most of Game 2, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov looked impenetrable. He preserved a 1-0 Philadelphia lead through two periods even when being peppered by 12 shots in the second period.
However, the Devils' persistence paid dividends in the third period when Bryzgalov finally broke. They erupted for three goals within a 14-minute period.
As long as the Devils stick to their game plan of constantly challenging the inconsistent Russian net-minder, they should be able to put more than a few shots by him in Game 3.
Penalty Kill Must Be Top Notch
The Flyers' power play went 12-for-23 in the first-round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins. So far in round two that same unit is 1-for-11 with the man-advantage.
It seems, for at least the moment, that the Devils have regained the penalty killing prowess that helped them break records during the regular season.
If New Jersey's penalty killing unit can continue to stifle Philadelphia's power play, the chances for a Game 3 victory in New Jersey will greatly increase for the Devils.