After losing six of their past seven games and five in a row, the Flyers gave those on hand at Wachovia Center reason to smile on Fan Appreciation Night, a 5-1 victory over their Atlantic Division rivals, the New Jersey Devils.
Five players scored for the Flyers and Brian Boucher made 32 saves. It was the first time in 15 games the Flyers scored more than two goals.
It was the Flyers' fifth victory over the Devils in six meetings this year and they chased veteran Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur after two periods.
But the man of the hour was Boucher, who took a shutout into the third period on a night when the Flyers needed him. Boucher was backed up by Carter Hutton, who was playing college hockey less than a month ago. Three Flyers goalies have suffered injuries this season, leaving Boucher (6-15-3) as the goaltender of last resort.
The victory lifted the Flyers into sixth place in the Eastern Conference while the Devils fell to second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Atlantic-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout, 4-3, earlier Sunday.
The Flyers struck on the game's first shift at 53 seconds when Arron Asham carried into the Devils' zone and fired a pass to Scott Hartnell on the left wing. Hartnell gave it to Matt Carle in the high slot and his 37-foot shot hit Brodeur's glove and deflected in.
Boucher made a nice stop on a hard shot from Patrik Elias 15 seconds later and Brodeur was up to the task at 2:16 when Simon Gagne stole a puck in the right faceoff circle and ripped a shot that Brodeur stopped.
David Clarkson quickly outmuscled Ian Laperriere at 6:06 in a scrap that had its origins at the 3-minute mark when Laperriere dumped the Devils center behind the Flyers goal. Clarkson turned down the invitation at that point but was ready later.
The Flyers made it 2-0 at 8:18 when Ville Leino passed behind the net to Danny Briere who skated out and tried to feed Simon Gagne a soft pass in the crease.
The puck went past Gagne and two Devils defenders for Leino's tap-in on the left side.
The Flyers increased their lead to 3-0 at 45 seconds of the second period on a broken play on a power play. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was whistled for high-sticking at 18:47 of the first period. The Flyers' power play, 0-for-20 over their last six games, was disorganized through the end of the first period.
But they came out strongly in the second period. Pronger took a pass at the left point and fanned on a pass to Mike Richards high on the right half-boards. So he backhanded a pass to Kimmo Timonen, who was coming up the left boards after pinching low. Timonen's slap shot hit the near post and went in.
Maligned in recent weeks for his inability to win, Boucher was excellent as the Devils erased an 11-3 edge in shots at the 12-minute mark of the first period. The Devils led 22-19 by the end of the second period, thanks to four Flyers' penalties. His best save stopped Elias in close off a nice pass from Clarkson.
The Flyers then made it 4-0 at 19:31 when Lukas Krajicek's point shot appeared to be deflected by both Travis Zajac and Andy Greene. Blair Betts and Laperriere worked a nice give-and-go on the cycle behind the Devils goal. Laperriere sent a long pass to Krajicek, who beat Brodeur through the screen of two Flyers and two Devils.
Yann Danis replaced Brodeur to start the third period. Boucher made a strong save on Elias at 7:00 and another on Jamie Langenbrunner from the left point at 7:14. The Flyers had yet to put a shot on Danis.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils at 10:20 when he one-timed Brian Rolston's feed from behind the net past Boucher.
The Flyers got the goal right back at 10:53 when Gagne beat Danis from the left side off a nice pass from Leino, who walked down the slot. The Flyers had been outshot 9-1 at that point in the third period.
Riley Cote played his 14th game of the season in place of rookie James van Riemsdyk, who hasn't scored in the past 15 games. It was only the second game for Cote since Dec. 21.
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