NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Martin Brodeur made 18 saves for his 650th career victory and Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists to help the New Jersey Devils beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Sunday night in a showdown between surging Eastern Conference rivals.
Patrik Elias, Anton Volchenkov and Zach Parise also scored for the Devils, who have won four straight and five of their last six. With victory, the Devils pulled even with the fifth-place Flyers. Both teams have 85 points, although the Flyers have played one fewer game.
Sergei Bobrovsky was in goal for the Flyers as the streaking Ilya Bryzgalov got a night off after starting 11 straight games. Bryzgalov has been brilliant, posting three shutouts as the Flyers won five straight coming in. Bobrovsky saw his first action since Feb. 18.
Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers.
Elias scored the only goal of the first period, tipping a return feed from David Clarkson past Bobrovsky’s glove for a power-play tally with 24.4 seconds remaining.
New Jersey outshot Philadelphia 11-6 over the first 20 minutes.
The Flyers had an 8-7 shot advantage in the scoreless second period. Their best chance for the equalizer came midway through on the power play when Brodeur made a big stop on Scott Hartnell.
Philadelphia pulled even 16 seconds into the third when Giroux flicked a shot past Brodeur’s blocker. The goal was set up by Jaromir Jagr, who carried the puck into the New Jersey zone and circled behind the net before sliding a pass to Giroux in the slot.
Volchenkov put New Jersey back in front at 2-1 as the light-scoring defenseman joined the rush. Volchenkov converted a pass from Kovalchuk at 2:45 for his second goal of the season.
Kovalchuk put the Devils up by two with his 30th of the season at 8:08 as both teams were short a player due to penalties. Kovalchuk flipped a shot over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder for his fifth goal in the last four games.
NOTES: The game kicked off a home-and-home series. The teams meet again Tuesday night in Philadelphia to close out the season series. … RW Steve Bernier and D Matt Taormina were the Devils’ scratches. The Flyers scratched defensemen Pavel Kubina, Andrej Meszaros, Kimmo Timonen and RW Jakub Voracek. … Philadelphia’s Jody Shelley tried to start a scrum, shoving New Jersey’s Cam Janssen before a faceoff at 4:54 of the second. The Devils didn’t bite and Shelley wound up spending 12 minutes in the penalty box with a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and a misconduct. … The Devils lead the season series 3-2. This was the first time the home team got the victory.
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