Cullen: Devils eliminate Flyers in five

Scott Cullen

5/8/2012 11:42:28 PM

The New Jersey Devils made short work of the Philadelphia Flyers, taking their second-round series with a 3-1 Game Five win.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a goal and an assist for the Devils, giving him a team-leading seven points in the four games that he played in the series. Dainius Zubrus added an assist, giving him five points in the series and four other Devils recorded four points; a balanced attack.

Devils D Bryce Salvador continued his strong play in the series, leading the Devils in Game Five with 23:43 of ice time and scoring New Jersey's first goal. Salvador, who didn't score a goal and had nine assists in 82 regular season games, has two goals, four assists and a plus-8 rating in a dozen playoff games.

With Flyers C Claude Giroux suspended for Game Five, due to his head hit on Zubrus in Game Four, Salvador got to turn his attention to Flyers C Danny Briere, who recorded an assist on the Flyers' lone goal, giving him a team-high five points in the series, but he wasn't especially dangerous otherwise.

D Andrej Meszaros returned to the Flyers' lineup for the first time since March 1. Coming off back surgery, he logged 19:26 of ice time in the series-deciding game.

Even though the Flyers won their first round series against Pittsburgh, it's not altogether surprising that their goaltending wasn't up to the level necessary to advance further.

Ilya Bryzgalov posted a pedestrian .902 save percentage in the series, but the series-winning goal was a back-breaker -- Bryzgalov's attempt to clear the puck hit the shaft of forechecker David Clarkson's stick and bounced back between Bryzgalov's legs and into the net.

The loss doesn't fall solely on goaltending, however. After a first-round series in which virtually all Flyers contributed offensively, the scoring well ran dry for several, including Jaromir Jagr (one assist, seven shots on goal), Matt Read (one goal, four shots on goal) and Sean Couturier (no points, seven shots on goal).

Even if their playoff departure is sooner than they might have hoped, Philadelphia can take heart in their relative success this season. After overhauling their roster last summer and losing D Chris Pronger to a concussion early in the year, the Flyers exceeded expectations and are poised, with a young team, to remain competitive for years to come.

On the other hand, the Devils missed the playoffs last year and are on their way to the Eastern Conference Final. New Jersey has stars like Kovalchuk and Zach Parise to lead the way, but it's also the foot soldiers, like Salvador, rookie C Adam Henrique and a veteran like Zubrus who have all come up with strong performances when the Devils needed it most.

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