NEWARK, N.J. – The New Jersey Devils could feel another game slipping way when they surrendered the lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the closing seconds of regulation.
This time they bent, but did not break. Brian Gionta, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner scored in the shootout to lead the Devils to a 12th straight home victory over the Flyers, 5-4 on Friday night.
New Jersey snapped a season-high, five-game losing streak (0-4-1) and ended Philadelphia’s four-game winning run. Every Devils shooter beat goalie Martin Biron in the tiebreaker.
“You have to look at the real positives here,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “There were a lot of them. We went into a shootout and were able to score on all three of them. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Mike Richards, the first Flyers shooter, was stopped by Martin Brodeur and that proved decisive. Jeff Carter and Danny Briere followed with goals, but it wasn’t enough to extend Philadelphia’s winning streak.
Johnny Oduya had his first two-goal game for the Devils, and Langenbrunner also scored in regulation.
Mike Knuble sent the game into overtime, scoring the equalizer for Philadelphia with 55.2 seconds remaining and Biron on the bench for an extra attacker. The Flyers relentlessly pounded the Devils defence and the pressure paid off as Richards fed the puck from behind the net to Knuble in the slot. He whipped a shot past Brodeur to make it 4-4.
“That definitely hurt,” Langenbrunner said. “There was a lot disappointment on the bench. You could see we were a little deflated. For us to come back was huge. We couldn’t afford to drop another one.”
Vinnie Prospal, Jim Dowd and Randy Jones also scored for Philadelphia in regulation. The Flyers took solace in a hard-fought effort, a pair of comebacks and a crucial point in the standings.
“It was good sign to be able to battle back on the road against the Devils,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “It’s a big point. I love the fact we just kept coming.”
Gionta gave the Devils a 4-3 lead with 5:53 left in regulation. Brodeur started the play with an outlet pass, and Gionta left a drop pass for John Madden in the Flyers zone. Gionta then headed to the net and deflected in the return feed.
The Devils jumped over Ottawa into fourth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia is in seventh, two points behind the New York Rangers and one ahead of Boston.
Oduya scored twice in the first period as the Devils rallied for a 2-1 lead.
Philadelphia opened the scoring at 9:35 on Prospal’s goal.
Oduya pulled the Devils even on a power-play goal with 2:39 remaining. He threaded a pass through the crease intended for Zach Parise, and the puck popped past Biron.
Parise set up Oduya’s second tally, sending a pass back to the point where the defenseman cranked a shot past Biron with 31.2 seconds remaining.
In the second, Langenbrunner made it 3-1 at 3:25. He knocked in a rebound of Sheldon Brookbank’s shot.
Dowd, a New Jersey native and a former Devils player, got the Flyers back in the game with a deflection of Jones’ shot at 9:14.
Jones evened it 3-3 at 8:18 with a shot from the left point over Brodeur’s glove. It looked as though Carter might have deflected the puck with a high stick but a video review upheld the goal.
“It’s disappointing the way the game ended,” Briere said. “You wish that such an effort would get two points. We’ll take the point at this point. Every one is critical.”
Notes: The Flyers haven’t won in New Jersey since March 9, 2004. The Devils own the second-longest current home winning streak against one team. Carolina has won 13 straight against Florida. … Devils D Bryce Salvador missed a sixth straight game with a leg injury. … Jones, who returned after missing six games (hip), crashed into Brodeur in the first period and was challenged by Devils D Mike Mottau. Both players received minor penalties and majors for fighting. Mottau’s minor was an unsportsmanlike penalty for hair-pulling.