PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Flyers knew one of their shots eventually had to go in. Mike Richards’ was the one that finally counted.
The team captain scored the go-ahead goal on a power play with less than eight minutes left in the third period, leading the Flyers to a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
Richards, who shot the final of a flurry of shots at Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, took a behind-the-net pass from Kimmo Timonen, and Flyers goalie Michael Leighton made that stand up, as the Flyers rallied from two goals down.
“It was a little bit of a scramble, getting the puck, and Kimmo made a good play, just like he always does,” Richards said. “He settled (the play) down a little bit and was patient with the puck. He made a good pass to me, and I stayed in front of the net.”
While Richards netted the go-ahead goal, James van Riemsdyk and Jeff Carter shifted the momentum, as each beat Brodeur late in the second period, to tie it at 2.
With the Devils ahead 2-0, Brodeur allowed the pair of goals 1:12 apart. Van Riemsdyk scored at 18:24 when he split two defenders and wristed a shot past Brodeur’s glove side from just above the face-off circle. Carter followed by taking Scott Hartnell’s cross-ice pass and slammed a one-timer past a tumbling Brodeur.
After scoring one goal in the previous two games, the Flyers took out some frustration on Brodeur, with 37 shots on goal.
“When things aren’t scoring, you just got to kind of get back to basics there and just throw as many pucks as you can,” van Riemsdyk said. “Just kind of getting a lot of traffic in front and just making the goalie’s job really hard.”
The Flyers snapped a two-game losing streak, and beat the Devils for the third time in four meetings.
Zach Parise and Anssi Salmela scored for the Devils, who have lost 10 of 14.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the second and they made big plays,” Brodeur said.
Salmela left the ice on a stretcher after scoring when he took a hard shoulder to the face from Carter.
As he scored his short-handed goal, a wrister past Leighton’s glove side that gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead, Salmela was struck by Carter as he skated by. Salmela tumbled to the ice and remained face down for several minutes, until the Devils medical staff wheeled him off.
The 25-year-old Salmela arrived in last week’s trade with Atlanta that brought Ilya Kovalchuk to New Jersey, and was playing in his second game with his new team. The goal was his first with the Devils and second this season. Kovalchuk has two assists, but remains without a goal with New Jersey.
At the end of the second period, Salmela was seen walking and talking.
“I didn’t see it coming,” he said, adding that he lost consciousness for a few moments. “It’s no big deal. It’s just hockey. I’m getting better now. Just a bit of a headache, but I think everything else is good.”
Parise scored New Jersey’s first goal when his attempt to centre the puck from just below the face-off circle glanced off Chris Pronger’s skate and past Leighton. It came during a power play seven minutes into the game.
For the Flyers, who have three games before the Olympic break, it was a matter of getting more opportunities.
“We started shooting the puck more, we started going to the net more,” Richards said, “and I think (van Riemsdyk’s) big goal there was a little bit of a deflection, and gave us a bit of momentum, and then (Carter) scored at the end of the period. It gave us a lot of confidence going into the third period.”
Leighton had to deal with a New Jersey power play for the final two minutes, including a few one-timers from Kovalchuk.
“That couldn’t have went any slower,” Leighton said. “They were flying at the net. Our penalty kill did a great job and we were able to pull it out. This couldn’t have come at a better time.
NOTES: Flyers goalie Ray Emery missed his third straight game with tightness in his hip. … Van Riemsdyk’s goal was his first in eight games. … The last time the Flyers came back from a two-goal deficit to beat New Jersey was Oct. 7, 2005, a 5-2 win.