Briere Nets Winner In Overtime, Flyers Take 1-0 Series Lead

Image Courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After having a goal earlier in the overtime period waved off, Danny Briere potted the winner 4:36 into the extra frame for a 4-3 win and a 1-0 series advantage for the Flyers in their Eastern Conference Semifinals’ matchup with the New Jersey Devils.

“Is it pressure? I think it’s fun,” Briere said of playoff hockey. “When I have the opportunity, like I’ve had the past few years here, I try to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Minutes after he had a goal disallowed for kicking the puck into the back of the net, Briere received a Jakub Voracek pass at the top of the circles and released a slapper that beat a screened Martin Brodeur.

“Van Riemsdyk definitely pushed my stick over when he came across,” Brodeur said after the loss. “He didn’t do it on purpose. He was just going in front of the net. I got my position there, but it prevented me from making the save.”

James van Riemsdyk stood inches in front of Brodeur and jumped at the right moment to not block Briere’s bid.

The goal was Briere’s second of the tilt for his third two-goal game of the playoffs and his first overtime-winner in the playoffs as a Flyer.

JvR scored his first goal of the playoffs in the second period, while Claude Giroux blasted home a power-play goal in third period to round out Philly’s scoring. Voracek had a pair of assists in today’s win, both of which were primary helpers on Briere’s tallies.

Ilya Bryzgalov and Brodeur both looked shaky into today’s contest, but Bryzgalov did slightly better than the Devils’ goalie.

Bryz stopped 23 of 26 shots today, but two of the Devils’ scores could have easily been prevented. If Bryzgalov hurried back to the cage on Jersey’s second goal or stopped an unscreened slap shot from the circle in the final period, he may have had a shutout and the Flyers’ road to today’s win would have been much easier.

Brodeur didn’t do much better, as he constantly misplayed the puck and dropped to the ice earlier than needed on several occassions in Jersey’s loss today. With the exception of a huge leg-pad save on Scott Hartnell in overtime, Brodeur looked questionable throughout today’s contest.

Zach Parise had a goal and an assist in the loss, as he talked about his team’s performance following the loss. “If we came in and lost 6-0, maybe we’d talk about adjustments,” said Parise. “We were right there. We had just as good a chance to win the game as they did.”

Both Travis Zajac and Petr Sykora beat Bryzgalov in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the Devils’ first overtime loss of the 2012 playoffs.

The Flyers showed some rust in the opening 20 minutes, as the Devils jumped out to a 1-0 advantage.

In the midst of their early offensive pressure, the Devils recorded the series’ first goal thanks to a turnover from Matt Read in the Flyers’ zone.

Read tried to wrap a puck around the boards, but had the pass intercepted by Patrik Elias behind Bryzgalov’s cage. New Jersey’s center saw Parise at the bottom of the circle and fed it to him for a one-timer that beat Philly’s netminder five-hole 3:16 into the affair.

Jersey maintained the upper hand in play for the next several minutes, as the Devils amounted the first 11 shots on net in the tilt and saw the game’s first power play with a Voracek slashing minor.

The Orange and Black ended the Devils’ surge when Bryce Salvador took a stroll to the sin bin for roughing. Philly may have not scored (or even registered a shot on net) during the man advantage, but the power play was the Flyers’ first string of time spent in Jersey’s zone.

After another failed power play later in the period when Marek Zidlicky visited the box for hooking, the Flyers entered the middle frame down by one and trailing in the shot count 15-6.

In the second period, the Flyers potted a pair of goals and saw a Zajac shot leak through Bryzgalov to make it a 2-2 game to start the final 20 minutes.

The Flyers dictated play for the opening minutes despite only having three shots on net and were finally rewarded for their pressure with a Briere breakaway goal.

As a Devils’ shot from the point in the Flyers’ zone missed the net and wrapped around the boards, Voracek picked up the biscuit and launched it to Briere at the Devils’ blue line. Skating in on Brodeur with Peter Harrold on his back, Briere took advantage of a flopping Brodeur and placed a shot low blocker-side for his sixth tally of the 2012 playoffs.

Just 37 seconds later, a bad turnover from Brodeur led to an easy goal for van Riemsdyk.

Brodeur played the puck behind the Devils’ net and threw it to the blue line, where Erik Gustafsson grabbed the clear attempt and threw a shot towards the cage. After Brodeur sprawled to stop Gus’ shot, the puck hit bodies in front and traveled cross ice to JvR. With Brodeur out of position, van Riemsdyk essentially had an empty-net goal to give Philly their first lead of the series.

Later in the period, a misplay by Bryzgalov led to Zajac’s game-tying goal.

After he missed the puck behind the net as it wrapped around the boards, Bryzgalov took a second too long to get back to the crease and let a Zajac shot trickle through his five-hole. Nick Grossmann just missed sweeping the puck off the goal line, as he whacked the biscuit away from the net after the disc was a few inches over the goal line for Jersey’s second toal of the contest.

Giroux restored the Flyers’ lead in the third period with a power-play tally 4:19 into the stanza. A beautiful passing play culminated with a Kimmo Timonen pass from the point to Giroux in the circle for a powerful one-timer that rocketed past Brodeur.

Although the Orange and Black dominated in the third period, Sykora capitalized on one of Jersey’s only scoring chances in the contest.

Voracek flubbed a shot from the point that David Clarkson caught at the top of the circles in the Devils’ zone and fed to Sykora for a breakaway chance. With a slap shot from the middle of the cirlce, Sykora created a shot that squeaked through Bryz’ five-hole and in for a 3-3 game with 8:38 left.

Despite several chances late in the tilt, the Flyers couldn’t find the game-winning goal in regulation. Philly had a 15-4 shot count in the final frame.

In overtime, Briere scored his second of the affair to give Philly a 1-0 series lead.

The Flyers look for a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Notes: This is the Flyers’ fourth straight playoff win against the Devils dating back to Game 3 of the clubs’ meeting in the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals…Briere’s overtime-winner was his first since he put home the winner as a member of the Buffalo Sabres in their 2-1 Game 6 win in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes…In his first game back from a concussion, Grossmann was plus-1 with a shot, two hits, and blocked two shots in 16:26 TOI…Hall of Famers Gordie Howe and Mark Howe were at the game…Sykora’s goal in the third period was his first playoff goal since he scored in triple-overtime of Game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final for the Pittsburgh Penguins.