Devils Go 3/3 In a Shootout Victory Over The Flyers

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Devils Go 3/3 In a Shootout Victory Over The Flyers
A visit from the Philadelphia Flyers brought the Devils a much-needed boost for their playoff push.

Jamie Langenbrunner scored the deciding goal in the third round of the shootout as the Devils snapped their season-high five-game winless streak with a 5-4 victory over the Flyers at Prudential Center on Friday night.

Langenbrunner also had a goal for New Jersey, which blew leads of 3-1 and 4-3 but held on for its sixth straight decision over Philadelphia this season (6-1-0).

The Devils appeared headed toward a 4-3 win after Brian Gionta broke a 3-3 tie with 5:53 remaining in regulation. But Mike Knuble's tally with 55.2 seconds left knotted the contest at 4-4 and forced overtime.

Shots were even, 2-2, in the extra session, with Martin Brodeur making a key stop on Jason Smith's backdoor try from the right circle with 1:12 left.

Brodeur would prevail on Philadelphia's first attempt, forcing Mike Richards to miss wide right, off the outside of the net. The teams then traded shootout goals until Langenbrunner's backhander over Martin Biron's catching glove ended it on New Jersey's final attempt.

Brodeur (41-26-6) made 28 saves, including two in overtime, before allowing goals to Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere in the shootout. The Devils' goaltender has been in net for every one of New Jersey's 12 straight home ice wins against the Flyers.

"You have to look at the real positives tonight," head coach Brent Sutter said. "There were a lot of them. We went into the shootout and were able to score on all three of them. That doesn't happen very often."

Among those positives was the Devils' offense, which entered Friday's action averaging a goal per game over the losing skid. New Jersey got a shot in the arm from Johnny Oduya's first career two-goal game, while Patrik Elias added two assists to take the team lead (34).

The Devils (43-28-7, 93 pts.) moved a point ahead of Ottawa for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and closed to within four of Pittsburgh for the Atlantic lead with four games to play. New Jersey would clinch a playoff berth with a regulation loss by the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Florida.

Sutter's group is back in action Tuesday at the Nassau Coliseum before hosting the Boston Bruins Wednesday night in Newark. Next Friday at Wachovia Center brings the finale of the Devils' season series with the Flyers, and the team returns home to wrap up the regular season versus the Rangers on April 6.

Briere and Vaclav Prospal combined for a 1-0 Philadelphia lead in the opening period. The pair crisscrossed inside the Devils' blue line before Prospal's wrister from the right circle beat Brodeur for his 33rd of the season at  9:35.

But Oduya closed out the frame with two goals in a span of 2:07 to give the Devils a 2-1 advantage heading into the second. His first came on a centering attempt from the bottom of the left circle that pinballed off traffic in front and flopped over top of Biron and into the net at 17:21.

It was New Jersey's first power-play goal in four games, snapping an 0-for-15 drought.

Then, with under a minute left, Zach Parise avoided a hit from Kimmo Timmonen in the left corner, and found Oduya in the high slot for his sixth of the season. Oduya's wrister beat Biron's glove side with just 31.2 seconds left in the period.

Oduya notched the first goal by a Devils defenseman in seven games, and the first two-goal output by a New Jersey blueliner in 22 contests.

Langenbrunner upped the lead to two in the second period with his first goal in six games.

Parise intercepted a Braydon Coburn pass in Flyers territory, allowing Sheldon Brookbank to control for a shot on goal from the right point. Biron made the initial stop before Langenbrunner buried his 13th at 3:25.

Philadelphia closed to within one at 3-2 when Jim Dowd redirected Randy Jones' shot from the left point at 9:14. Brodeur preserved the one-goal lead when he robbed a Richards one-timer from the bottom of the right circle at 10:25.

Jones tied the game, 3-3, in the third period with a shot from the left point that caught the top right corner of the net for his fifth of the year at 8:18.

Brodeur assisted on New Jersey's go-ahead tally, clearing the puck around the boards, where Gionta collected along the right side to lead a 3-on-2 with John Madden and Jay Pandolfo.

Gionta crossed and dropped for Madden, who slipped a backhand pass through the slot for Gionta's 22nd at 14:07.

The Devils missed a couple of chances to clear the zone with time ticking down, allowing Richards to control behind the Devils' net. Richards threw a blind backhand pass from behind the net that reached Knuble in front for a 4-4 score at 19:04.

It marked the fourth time in six games that the Devils allowed a tying or go-ahead goal with under five minutes to play. Unlike the other three, however, this time New Jersey came away with a 'W'.


NJD NOTES
Langenbrunner also had the deciding goal in New Jersey's shootout win March 13 at Minnesota... Madden's 23rd assist matched a career high ('03-04)... Brodeur has four assists on the season... Bryce Salvador missed his sixth straight game with a lower body injury... Mike Mottau had his second fight of the season, dropping gloves with Jones in the first period after the Philly defenseman bumped Brodeur in the crease. Mottau, who fought Isles forward Mike Comrie on Dec. 29, recorded the takedown on Jones... New Jersey improved to 6-4 in shootouts overall, and 4-2 at home.
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