|NJD Lead Series 3 - 1|
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
Devils Lead Series, 2-1
1. THE FLYERS HAVE NOT LOST…
After winning Game 1 of the series, the Flyers have dropped their last two games… During the playoffs and entire regular season the Flyers have NOT lost three straight games in regulation OR overtime play.
2. A TIGHT SERIES
Two of the three games in the series have been decided in overtime and both by a 4-3 score… The Devils have now had four of their last five games decided in overtime… All three games in this series have been decided in either the third period or overtime.
3. IN GAME 4s
The Flyers own an even record of 13-13 in Game 4s when trailing 2 games to 1… The Flyers have also mounted comebacks in series in each of the last two years to advance to the next round (2011 ECQF vs. Buffalo - trailed 3-2 & 2010 ECSF vs. Boston - trailed 3-0).
4. Player to watch DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk has posted four points in his two games against the Flyers in this series, including a goal and two assists in Game 3… Kovalchuk is tied for the team lead in scoring in the playoffs with nine points (4G-5A) in nine games.
5. Player to watch FLYERS: Jakub Voracek
Voracek has averaged over a point per game in the playoffs, recording two goals and eight assists for 10 points in nine games thus far, while also recording a plus-minus rating of +2… He has three points, all assists, in the series thus far.
GAME 4 PREVIEW
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - On the eve of his 40th birthday, New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur isn't expecting the Philadelphia Flyers to show up bearing gifts for Game 4.
The Flyers can't afford the gesture at this point in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal. They trail 2-1 heading into Sunday's game at the Prudential Center, and the margin might easily have been 3-0.
That's how well the Devils have played this series. They've slowed down Philadelphia's offense with their forecheck while also shutting down a power play that had a big hand in sending Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins home in the previous round.
If Brodeur has a concern, it's about his own team, which won Game 3 in overtime Thursday night. The Devils relaxed at times in the opening round against the Florida Panthers and can't afford a repeat of that.
"It's been like that for our team," Brodeur said Saturday. "When you have a little success you let up a little bit. As we have gotten experience in the playoffs, so far, slowly we are putting things together, two games, three games, four games. It's Game 6 (vs. Florida) through Game 3. This is a lot of games we're playing some good hockey. We just have to keep going that way."
The Flyers have been good in spurts, but they have struggled against the Devils' forechecking.
Philadelphia center Claude Giroux, the leading scorer in the playoffs entering Saturday's play, has been a non-factor the past two games.
In a bid to shake things up, coach Peter Laviolette changed lines at practice Saturday.
"I think it's not a series like Pittsburgh that's more open and there's going to be a lot of goals scored," Giroux said. "I think we need to understand it's going to be a close game and if we have to win 1-0, that's good enough."
Devils captain Zach Parise said the team has done a good job of not giving the Flyers any cheap goals. However, there are still too many penalties. The Flyers have had 16 power plays in the first three games but only scored twice. They had 12 power-play goals in six games against Pittsburgh.
Laviolette thinks his team has made adjustments both in their defensive end and at center ice against New Jersey, but the Flyers need to push more on the offensive end.
"I do think that our team is capable of playing certain parts of that game better than we did. That's the objective," Laviolette said. "Play a better 60 minutes. More competitive. So emotionally, yeah, better. Offensively, yeah, better. There's lot of things I think we can do better. That's our goal in Game 4."
The Devils, who like the Flyers took Friday off, didn't change anything for Saturday's roughly one-hour practice. Ilya Kovalchuk, who had a goal and two assists returning to the lineup for Game 3 on Thursday, said the lower-body injury that sidelined him for Game 2 was feeling fine.
Off the ice, there were a lot of smiles and confidence in the Devils' locker room.
"We're in a good spot right now," Parise said. "We feel like we know what is working for us and we have to continue to do that. It was the same with the Florida series. When we played to our strengths we beat them. When we were trying to be fancy and turning the puck over that's when they were beating us. It's pretty simple."
It's an opinion Brodeur shares after 18 NHL seasons and three Stanley Cup championships.
"Hockey is just a game," said Brodeur, who joked about his age and the fact that backup goaltender Johan Hedberg turned 39 on Saturday.
"I don't know why they associate age with it all the time," Brodeur added. "It is what it is. I don't think that extra day makes that big of a difference."
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