NEWARK, N.J. — It was far from how the New Jersey Devils pictured it would go, but the result is the same.
After a horrendous first period, the Devils (9-2-3) scored the last four goals over the final two periods to top the Flyers (6-8-1), 5-3, at Prudential Center Friday night.
The win is New Jersey’s sixth straight over Philadelphia, dating back to the Eastern Conference semifinals last playoffs.
Travis Zajac took a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk and ripped a wrist shot past Flyers’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov 40 seconds into the game to put New Jersey on top early, but it was all Flyers after that. Philadelphia got first-period goals from Wayne Simmonds, Mike Knuble, and Matt Read to take control of the game and pin the Devils on their heels.
But, much like that playoff series last year, New Jersey never counted itself out.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, who famously beat Bryzgalov in overtime of game three last year, took a pass in the neutral zone from Kovalchuk and sniped a shot past Bryzgalov short-side to draw the Devils within a goal at 3-2 in the second period. It was Ponikarovsky’s first game with the Devils after being reacquired through a trade on Wednesday night.
Later in the period, Patrik Elias came off the bench to snap a shot through Bryzgalov and into the net to tie the game at 3.
New Jersey put the game away in the third period, when David Clarkson deflected a point-shot from Adam Larsson through his legs and past Bryzgalov 10:43 in, and Steve Bernier padded the lead with an empty-net goal late in the game to seal the win for the Devils.
The victory helped the Devils get back on the winning side of things after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and also improved their lead in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
With the Boston Bruins’ loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, the Devils also became the first Eastern Conference team to eclipse the 20-point mark.
The Devils will play its third back-to-back game of the season tomorrow, when they travel to New York to take on the Islanders at 7 p.m. New Jersey is 2-0-1 against the Islanders this season, most recently getting a 3-0 win on Feb. 3.