The New Jersey Devils evened up their series with the Philadelphia Flyers, taking a 4-1 decision in Game Two.
Scott Cullen looks at how the Devils pulled together in the absence of top line scorer Ilya Kovalchuk.
The Devils dominated the contest, outshooting the Flyers 34-20, including 12-2 in the second period, but it wasn't until the third period that they finally broke through against Flyers G Ilya Bryzgalov.
With Devils RW Ilya Kovalchuk out with a lower body injury, rookie C Adam Henrique stepped up, leading all Devils forwards with 21:54 of ice time. Henrique had played between 14 and 17 minutes in seven of his first eight playoff games this year, going up to 21:03 in Game Seven of the first round series against Florida, a double-overtime game in which Henrique scored a pair of goals including the series winner.
Devils rookie D Adam Larsson, seeing his first action of the playoffs after being a healthy scratch to this point, played only 13:15, but scored the Devils' first goal, was plus-2 and registered a game-high five hits.
The game-winning goal was tallied by David Clarkson, the first of the postseason for the Devils' right winger who scored 30 goals in the regular season. Clarkson has seven points in nine games, to rank second on the team in scoring, behind Travis Zajac, who also scored a goal -- his fifth -- to give him eight points in nine games.
Dainius Zubrus, who had gone seven games without a point after two points in the playoff opener, picked up two assists in Game Two against Philadelphia. Yet another example of the lesser-known Devils rising to the occasion in the absence of a star performer.
Danny Briere, who has been a playoff hero for the Flyers, endured a tough night. For only the second time in eight playoff games, Briere was held off the scoresheet but, with a minus-3 rating, it marked the fourth time in eight games that he was minus-2 or worse. Briere's linemates, James van Riemsyk and Jakub Voracek didn't have productive nights either, as both failed to register a shot on goal.
LW Eric Wellwood, who played the least of any Philadelphia forward (11:19) led the Flyers with four shots on goal.
While the Game Two task seemed daunting for the Devils, playing in Philadelphia without Kovalchuk, there was no question which team deserved to win the game, as the Flyers were consistently beaten to loose pucks and seemingly outhustled consistently throughout the game. Heading home for Game Three, the Devils continue to get contributions from their depth players, so who knows which one is next to make the difference.
From the Flyers' perspective, they can take solace in the fact that Bryzgalov, despite the final score, was strong in net. It's reasonable to think that the Flyers won't often be as flat as they were in Game Two and if they're playing better as a team and getting goaltending from Bryzgalov, that actually makes Philadelphia a more dangerous team than they've shown thus far.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.