PHILADELPHIA – Danny Briere watched a replay of his shootout goal with a mischievous grin as if he knew he got away with something.
Briere skidded to a near-complete stop—shootout attempts must keep the puck moving forward on one continuous motion—that sent ice flying and Devils goalie Johan Hedberg to his belly, giving the Flyers centre an easy score.
“I wasn’t expecting that he could do that,” Hedberg said.
The goal stood. The Flyers’ lead did not.
Patrik Elias and Zach Parise scored in the shootout to lift New Jersey to a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. Elias scored the winner on New Jersey’s final attempt. Parise beat Sergei Bobrovsky on the stick side on the first attempt.
Briere scored the lone shootout goal for Philadelphia, using the sweet fake to pound in the goal.
“To be honest, I wasn’t trying to stop completely,” he said. “I just got surprised and stumbled a little bit.”
David Clarkson tied the score at 3-3 late in the third period after a costly turnover by the Flyers. Parise and Adam Henrique scored in the second to rally the Devils from a 2-0 hole.
“That’s the type of game we need to play,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “A lot of times in this league you get what you deserve and we deserved two points tonight.”
Zac Rinaldo and Claude Giroux scored second-period goals for the Flyers. Max Talbot scored in the third on a penalty shot for a 3-2 lead.
Rinaldo and Henrique each scored their first NHL goals.
The Flyers played without key forward James van Riemsdyk after he suffered a lower-body injury a night earlier against Buffalo. Van Riemsdyk suffered a punishing hit behind the net on Wednesday and was slow getting up, the likely cause of the injury.
Briere returned after missing two games because of an upper-body injury.
Hedberg, who had 21 saves, complained of a stiff back after something “popped” in the middle of the third. The Devils also lost forward Ilya Kovalchuk late with a lower-body injury and he was forced out of the shootout.
The Flyers picked Wayne Simmonds to take the first shot, skipping Jaromir Jagr. Giroux failed to score on Philadelphia’s third attempt.
It came down to the shootout because the Flyers failed to make smart defensive plays—the Flyers had a whopping 18 giveaways.
Matt Carle’s errant clear at the blue line was intercepted by Elias, who needed one pass to find Clarkson in front of the net to whip a backhander for the tying goal with 6:35 left in the third. It was Philadelphia’s second costly turnover of the game that led to a goal.
Talbot had put the Flyers ahead 2:37 into the third after he was dragged down on a breakaway by Devils defenceman Mark Fayne. Talbot, 0 for 1 in his career on penalty shots, skated along the right boards, cut through the slot, and deked Hedberg with a forehand for the 3-2 lead.
“I don’t have many moves in my toolbox so I went with what I can do,” Talbot said.
Bobrovsky got the start in net a night after Ilya Bryzgalov held off the Sabres. Bobrovsky was sensational early—twice stopping Dainius Zubrus in the final two minutes of the first to keep the game scoreless.
With defenceman Chris Pronger still out with an eye injury, Bobrovsky was battered with 30 shots though two periods. Hedberg only faced 14.
Rinaldo and Giroux struck first and scored the game’s first two goals. Rinaldo fired a wrist shot from the edge of the faceoff circle for his first career goal.
“Scoring my first goal is very special. It definitely gives me a little more confidence with the puck,” Rinaldo said. “I don’t just like hitting, I also like putting the puck into the net sometimes.”
Jagr swept around the net and fed a perfect cross-ice pass to Giroux who connected for his eighth goal of the season. Hedberg got the start to give a rusty Martin Brodeur the night off after he suffered a 5-3 loss to Toronto.
Staked to a two-goal lead against the slumping Devils, Bobrovsky stumbled midway through the second period.
Parise backhanded a loose puck after a scramble near the faceoff circle for his fifth goal of the season that made it 2-1. Henrique capitalized off a Flyers turnover to match Philly’s Rinaldo in memorable goals—and knot the score at 2-2.
“We didn’t feel we deserved to be down 2-0,” DeBoer said. “We stuck with it and got rewarded for it.”
The Devils took 21 shots in the second period—two fewer than Philadelphia’s total through overtime.
“There are a lot of things that I think we could do better in front of (Bobrovsky) to prevent certain things,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “But I think again, the second period they had their foot on the gas and we were watching a little bit too much.”
NOTES: Zebrus and Hedberg are both former Flyers’ draft picks. … The Flyers scored their first penalty shot since Darroll Powe on Feb. 15, 2011. They scored their first home penalty shot since Simon Gagne on Feb. 14, 2009. … The Flyers are 18 of 42 on regular-season penalty shots.