Game One Live Game Blog: Zajac Puts Devils On The Board, Flyers Lead, 2-1, In Third Period

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Travis Zajac’ss goal at 17:17 of the period puts cuts the Flyers lead, 2-1, in the third period of game one of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight at the Prudential Center.

Andy Greene held the puck down low, and sent a pass to Zajac near the puck. The Devils center sent a shot toward the front of the net, where Parise screened Boucher. The puck hit Boucher’s pads and slipped behind the goalie for Zajac’s first goal of this postseason.

Chris Pronger and Mike Richards scored to put the Flyers ahead of the Devils, 2-0, in the second period.

The Flyers almost scored a second powerplay goal at 15:13 of the third period. Gagne took the puck in the offensive zone, and skated to the left circle. His wrist shot banged off the post for the near miss.

The Devils squandered an early opportunity to climb back into the game. With Oskars Bartulis in the box with a double-minor for high sticking at 2:12 of the third period, the Devils couldn’t generate much offense at all. They only recorded two scoring chances, and the Flyers made the Devils powerplay unit uncomfortable the entire time. The crowd began to boo the Devils effort near the end of the man advantage.

That futile play has summed up the Devils man-advantage play tonight. They haven’t been terrible, they’ve been awful. With the Flyers giving the Devils plenty of opportunities to get back into the game, the Devils have failed to take advantage.

It seems like Jacques Lemaire is switching the lines. Travis Zajac just centered Kovalchuk and Jamie Langenbrunner. David Clarkson had been skating with the first line of Zajac and Zach Parise earlier tonight.

The Devils’ fans booed the home team as they went off the ice at the end of the period.

The Flyers outshot the Devils, 8-6, in the second period. The Devils lead the total shots category, 15-12.

Richard’s goal at 16:27 of the second period extended the Flyers ahead, 2-0.

Ian Laperriere created the scoring chance, stripping Martin Skoula of the puck near the Devils zone. Laperriere carried the puck into the zone, and sent a spinning, 360 pass to Richards. Richards took a slapshot from the low slot that Brodeur seemed to get a piece of. The puck hit the cross bar and caromed over the line for Richards first goal of the postseason.
Pronger’s powerplay goal at 9:25 of the period gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

With Zubrus in the box for hooking, Simon Gagne controlled the puck near the goal line. Gagne sent the puck on net, where Brodeur made the initial save. The rebound came to the front of the crease, where Pronger took a backhanded whack at the puck. It bounced off Brian Rolston and into the net for Pronger’s first goal of the playoffs.

Pronger made an important play before the goal, racing across the blue line to help his team maintain possession of the puck.

Kovalchuk is getting some great scoring chances, including his latest missed chance. Kovalchuk took the puck in the defensive zone and raced up ice. He deked around three Flyers, and found himself near the left circle. The left-winger fired the puck high over Boucher for the missed chance, and punched the glass on his way to the bench.

Kovalchuk  has created five scoring chances tonight.

After controlling the pace of the play, the Flyers have really come alive in this period. It seems like the Devils are the team on their heels, and the only one creating anything has been Kovalchuk.

While the game has been scoreless, it seems like the Devils are controlling the pace of play. They’ve been able to pin Philadelphia in their zone and, while the Flyers have generated some good rushes and scoring chances, the Devils look to be more in control and have set their offense in motion.

Both teams have played physical, and right now, the Devils seem to be responding positively and giving the Flyers a bit of their own medicine.

The Devils outshot the Flyers, 9-4, in the first period.

Brian Boucher made a great glove save to rob Ilya Kovalchuk. Dainius Zubrus chased the puck down in the Flyers zone, and skated out from around behind the net. He sent a pass to the front, which was knocked down in front. The puck sat between the hash marks, and Kovalchuk let go a wrister. Boucher picked up the puck through a screen and made the glove save.

The Devils had a great penalty kill, which ended at 9:52 of the period. With Bryce Salvador in the box for hooking, the Devils penalty kill unit didn’t allow the Flyers to get set up. They controlled the zone, and the Devils were able to consistently send the puck down the ice. As soon as the kill ended, Zach Parise blew past Kimmo Timmonen, making the Flyers defenseman hook him and giving the Devils a man advantage.

One of the immediate themes that came from the opening minutes of play is the physical play. Both teams are throwing their weight around, and both have created turnovers and opportunities with the physical play.

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Here were tonight’s starting lineups:

Flyers:

Simon Gagne-Mike Richards-Daniel Carcillo; Chris Pronger-Matt Carle; Brian Boucher

Devils:

Brian Rolston-Rob Niedermayer-Jamie Langenbrunner; Paul Martin-Andy Greene; Martin Brodeur

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The Flyers hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Devils hold the second seed. The Flyers took five of six games from the Devils this season.

Martin Brodeur will start his 167th consecutive playoff game tonight. Brian Boucher will play in the postseason for the first time since 2000, his rookie season.

During pre-game warmups, Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire hasn’t tipped his hands on the line combinations. The Devils’ have dressed 22 players, including Mark Fraser and Matt Corrente (as a forward). No one is skating on a solid line, with each player continually switching linemates.

Left winger Jay Pandolfo and defenseman Anssi Salmela, Fraser and Corrente will be healthy scratches. Andrew Peters (eye) and Vladimir Zharkov (back) are injury scratches tonight.

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