The New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur celebrated the beloved goalies 40th birthday in style, by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in front of 17,625 of their closest friends.
Brodeur made 20 saves to pick up the win. He became the first player to participate in a playoff game as a teenager and in his 40’s. With the win Brodeur also improved to 2-2 all-time on his birthday.
New Jersey now holds a commanding 3-1 series lead. A lead they have never relinquished in their playoff history.
The Devils have done to the Philadelphia Flyers what many experts believed was going to happen to them. They have outworked the Flyers in every aspect of the game and in many ways, outclassed them both on and off the ice.
The Devils fell behind early in game four but once agin they proved to be a resilient bunch.Dainus Zubrus, Petr Sykora and Marek Zidlicky all scored to complete New Jersey’s comeback after the Flyers had them in a 2-0 first period hole.
Travis Zajac took a bad penalty when they Flyers got under his skin. That lead to a Scott Hartnell power play goal to give Philly a 1-0 lead.
Claude Giroux, whom the Devils have been able to contain for most of the series picked up a short-handed goal a few minutes later to put New Jersey in the always precarious 2-0 hole. By precarious I mean for the team with the lead.
That was the end of all of the Flyers warm and fuzzy feelings because New Jersey responded quickly.
Petr Sykora cut the Devils’ deficit in half late on that same power play. Zidlicky fed Sykora with a perfect pass for an easy redirect past Bryzgalov, who seemed to lose track of the puck for a split second.
Zidlicky tied the game late in the first period when he crept in front of the net unabated for the easy tip-in off a nicely placed Bryce Salvador pass.
Zubrus, who was incredible all game long, capped off the Devils rally by finishing off a 3 on 1 late in the second period to give New Jersey a 3-2 lead.
Unlike in the first series against the Florida Panthers when it felt like no Devils lead was safe, regardless of how big. This game felt like it was over. Zubrus would later add an empty-netter to complete the scoring.
Now the Devils sit a mere game away from their first conference finals appearance since 2003.
If they should finish the Flyers off quickly there will be many out there that may have to rethink their position of the Devils because this team is dangerous when it matters most….right now.
Follow me on Twitter! @StevePalumboNHL
Email me at StevePalumboNHL@gmail.com