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Even without Kovalchuk, Devils steal home ice

The Sports Xchange

The Devils went to Philadelphia without an injured Ilya Kovalchuk and came back having taken away home-ice advantage for their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers.

Ilya Brzgalov frustrated the Devils for more than two periods. New Jersey outshot Philadelphia 25-11 in the first 40 minutes, 12-2 in the second period, but then the Devils did something they had never done before: score four goals in a playoff period. They skated off with a 4-1 road win that evened the series at 1-1.

Games 3 and 4 are in Newark on Thursday and Sunday.

Kovalchuk, who clearly hadn't been himself, was missing with an unidentified lower-body injury, but his teammates came through as the Devils rebounded for an overtime loss in Game 1 to get even.

"I really felt we would respond like this," coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's not more than I expected. It is what I expected.

"I knew we'd be better than Game 1. I think there were some obvious reasons why we ran out of gas a little in Game 1. I knew we'd bounce back. We've dealt with adversity of injuries and things all year, and I really felt that we'd have a great game tonight and we did."

Down 1-0, the Devils tied it on a goal by rookie defenseman Adam Larsson, playing in his first playoff game after being a healthy scratch for the first eight games of the postseason. That came at 3:08, right wing David Clarkson untied it with his first goal of the playoffs at 11:17, center Travis Zajac scored at 14:01 and defenseman Bryce Salvador hit the empty net for a shorthanded goal, his first goal in over two years.

"I just think it was just sticking with it," DeBoer said. "We really felt we were generating chances and we were spending a lot of time in their end. Bryzgalov made some big saves for them early. We just felt we had to stick with it, and that resiliency finally paid off."

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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