PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers have been struggling, but back-to-back victories against a fierce rival may be just what they need to turn things around.
Jeff Carter scored in overtime to lift Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
“To win close games like that against the Devils who pride themselves in winning close games, that was a real feather in our cap,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “I don’t know what it looks like to the fans, but it was an inspirational game for us and it was great to get the win.”
Martin Biron made 29 saves as the Flyers beat New Jersey for the second time in two days. The Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Devils on Friday night snapped a 13-game winless streak in New Jersey and was Philadelphia’s first win of the season following six losses.
“(The Flyers) are a really good team,” Devils winger Zach Parise said. “They’re going to be competitive all year. I don’t think their record indicates anything about that team.”
After play was delayed in overtime when a fan threw a smoke bomb on the ice, Carter deflected Ossi Vaananen’s shot from the blue line past Martin Brodeur. It was Carter’s sixth goal of the season and extended his goals streak to four games.
The smoke bomb was the topic of discussion in the Flyers’ locker-room after the game.
“It smelled like New Years,” Vaananen said.
And he wasn’t the only one who was talking about the impromptu pyrotechnics show.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen that,” Mike Knuble said. “In minor league hockey they would have fireworks explosions and the ice would water.”
Knuble and Scott Hartnell added goals for the Flyers. Parise and Brian Gionta scored for New Jersey.
Philadelphia appeared to have won only moments before Carter’s goal when Simon Gagne poked the puck over Brodeur’s shoulder and off the cross bar – but a review showed the puck never crossed the goal line.
New Jersey tied it at 2 late in the second period on Gionta’s power-play goal. Gionta took a pass from behind the net, skated across the goal mouth and beat Biron with a backhand shot.
Hartnell broke a 1-1 tie at 9:40 of the second period. Brodeur made an initial save on Braydon Coburn’s slap shot, but Hartnell scooped up the rebound and scored on a wide open net.
Brodeur stopped 30 shots in the loss.
Despite their early season woes, the Flyers, who reached the Eastern Conference final last season, haven’t lost the respect of their opponents.
“We didn’t underestimate them at all,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “I told our guys (Friday) morning that these guys are better than what their record was. They had some unfortunate games and shootouts, but they didn’t get to where they did in the playoffs last year by not being a good team. They’re no different of a team.”
The Devils made it 1-1 on Parise’s sixth goal of the season 27 seconds into the second period. He beat Biron to the glove side after deflecting Colin White’s wrist shot from the blue line.
Parise, who led New Jersey in scoring last season, extended his goals streak to four games, collecting eight points in that span.
Knuble opened the scoring, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 9:42 of the first period after taking a wraparound shot and punching his own rebound past Brodeur.
Notes: Daniel Briere underwent successful surgery to repair two tears in his groin. … Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner was scratched because of a hip injury that occurred Friday night. … Gionta appeared in his 400th NHL game for New Jersey. … Riley Cote and Pierre-Luc Letourneau Leblond brawled for the second straight game in the second period. … The start time of the game was changed to 4:00 p.m. ET in order to accommodate game three of the Phillies-Rays World Series on Saturday night in South Philadelphia.