Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Devils silenced the fans at the First Union Center early, then scored twice in a 26-second span late in the first period to keep them quiet.
New Jersey claimed home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference finals with a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers as Scott Niedermayer, Petr Sykora and Bobby Holik tallied in the opening period and Martin Brodeur made 35 saves.
Niedermayer beat rookie goaltender Brian Boucher on the Devils' first shot of the game, but Mark Recchi recharged the crowd at 8:20 with the tying goal.
After allowing a playoff-record six shots in Game Six of the conference semifinals against Toronto, the Devils surrendered 16 in the opening period. But they took control on the goals by Sykora and Holik, who ended a 28-game playoff scoring drought.
"It takes a lot of pressure off whenever you score two quick goals like we did," Brodeur said. "You get two goals up and the other team has to score three to pass you. It gave us a confident feeling."
Claude Lemieux added a power-play marker in the third period for New Jersey, which improved to 5-1 on the road on the postseason.
"You've got to win games on the road," Lemieux said. "In the playoffs, you may or may not have home-ice advantage, so you have to win away games. Our guys have been really solid and playing really well. We've had a lot of patience and confidence on the road. You want to keep that up. That's how you win championships."
While the 36 shots equaled the most allowed by the Devils in this year's playoffs, the Flyers had only seven in the third period and were stymied throughout by Brodeur.
"We had some good quality shots. We had a lot of real good quality shots," Recchi said. "A couple of bounces here or there and it could have gone either way. We generated enough.
Hopefully, next game we can sneak some by."
Game Two is Tuesday in Philadelphia.
The Flyers were hoping for a boost from the return of Keith Primeau, who suffered a concussion in Tuesday's clincher against Pittsburgh. But Niedermayer's third playoff goal started the scoring just 55 seconds into the first period. Randy McKay slid a pass to the high right faceoff circle and Niedermayer sent a perfect one-timer into the top right corner of the net.
New Jersey continued to pepper Boucher, who kept the Flyers in it until Recchi beat Niedermayer to a rebound of Daymond Langkow's shot and backhanded it past Brodeur for his fourth goal of the postseason.
The Devils grabbed the lead for good with 2:22 left in the first period. Jason Arnott threw a big check along the left boards to take the puck from defenseman Eric Desjardins. He centered to Sykora, who put a shot from the slot between Boucher's pads for his team-best fifth goal.
Holik's three-year playoff goal drought ended 26 seconds later.
McKay's pass was deflected in the high slot to teammate Sergei Brylin, who drew two defenders before getting the puck to Holik.
He put a one-timer from the edge of the left circle past Boucher for his first postseason tally since Game Five of the 1997 conference quarterfinals against Montreal.
"I wasn't looking for a goal to take my game to the next level," Holik said. "For me, this was a bonus for the hard work I put in. If we weren't playing well, that would be a different story."
Brodeur turned aside all 13 shots in the second period, sprawling to his left to stop John LeClair, who could not tuck a rebound inside the right goalpost with 13 1/2 minutes left.
"We had a good stretch going in the first period and then we let up two goals like that," LeClair said. "Against a team like that, you can't spot them a two-goal lead."
New Jersey went on the second of its two power plays early in the third period after rookie defenseman was penalized for high-sticking McKay. Lemieux converted at 5:19 of the third, banging in a cross-ice pass from Alexander Mogilny.
"That went off my stick or my skate and went right onto his tape. I don't even know if it hit his stick to go in," Flyers defenseman Dan McGillis said. "That is definitely frustrating.
We could have come back if we had put a goal in and made a game of it."
Philadelphia was 0-for-2 with the extra man against a Devils' team that has killed 35 of 36 shorthanded situations in the playoffs.