Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- A face from the past helped restore the future for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rick Tocchet had two goals and an assist and nearly was credited with the game-winner early in the third period as the Flyers rallied for a 4-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils that squared the Eastern Conference finals at one win apiece.
After taking Sunday's series opener, 4-1, the Devils dominated this contest for 39 minutes and built a 3-1 cushion. But Tocchet set up defenseman Eric Desjardins' goal with 38.8 seconds left in the second period to spark Philadelphia's comeback.
"If we go in 3-1 after that period, it gets a little ugly. You're dejected because you had a bad period," Tocchet said. "You make it 3-2 and all of a sudden you think, 'Hey, man, we've got life.' That was a key goal, getting that one."
Tocchet's second goal of the game forged a 3-3 tie 66 seconds into the third period and he initially was credited with the go-ahead tally 52 seconds later. After spending his first 7 1/2 seasons with the Flyers, he was re-acquired from Phoenix on March 8.
Daymond Langkow's blast from the top of the left faceoff circle was stopped by goaltender Martin Brodeur, but the rebound caromed into the slot. Tocchet shoved Devils defenseman Colin White, sending him and the puck into the net to give the Flyers their first lead since Tocchet opened the scoring 98 seconds into the game.
"Langkow was coming in full tilt. I knew he was going to take a shot," Brodeur said. "I took my angle and I kicked it out. It was a lucky bounce off Whitey's back or his pants and it went right in."
Dozens of hats littered the ice at the First Union Center, celebrating what would have been Tocchet's first career playoff hat trick. But the goal eventually was credited to Langkow.
"Lank was on the bench. He made the joke that I don't want them to change it," Tocchet said. "It's good that they didn't (announce it) because you want the fans into it, but it was nice that they thought I had the hat trick because it got the fans pumping."
"They came out storming like we expected them to after they got the late goal in the second, and we couldn't recover," Brodeur said. "We lost the game in about a three-minute span."
Moments later, Langkow took a hard shoulder check from defenseman Scott Stevens and appeared to strike the left side of his face as he hit the ice. He was taken to the locker room, did not return and will be examined Wednesday to determine if he is the latest Flyer to suffer a concussion.
The Devils were limited to five shots and even fewer scoring chances in the third period. They pulled Brodeur for an extra attacker in the final minute, but rookie Brian Boucher stopped Claude Lemieux's wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle with 35.5 seconds left and turned aside Patrik Elias' backhander with 12 seconds to play.
New Jersey rookie John Madden, who led the league with six shorthanded goals during the season, suffered a right knee injury following a third-period collision with Philadelphia's Keith Primeau. He will undergo an MRI on Wednesday morning.
Scott Gomez had a goal and an assist for New Jersey, which hosts Game Three on Thursday.
"I feel more that we lost the game than they won the game," Devils coach Larry Robinson said. "I felt we had pretty good control of it and just got away from what we have been doing all along. But you have to look at reality as well. To be honest, to come into this building and play a team such as the Flyers and to go home with a split, you have to be very happy."
New Jersey defenseman Ken Daneyko agreed.
"We had a great opportunity to go up 2-0," he said. "When you're up 3-1, you usually think the game is over. We thought it was over, and we had a three-minute lapse at the end of the second period."
Tocchet opened the scoring 98 seconds into the first period, tucking in a rebound of Adam Burt's shot to end an eight-game goal drought.
But the next 38 minutes belonged to the Devils. They tied it at 13:23 on Gomez's fourth playoff goal as the favorite for the Calder Trophy tipped fellow rookie White's point shot past Boucher's glove.
Jason Arnott put New Jersey in front 2:51 into the second period with his third playoff goal. He gathered a loose puck in the neutral zone, moved to the top of the slot and rocketed a shot that tipped off the blade of defenseman Chris Therien's stick and found its way inside the left goalpost.
Elias made it 3-1 with 5:10 left in the period. An outlet pass by Gomez sprung Elias and Petr Sykora on a 2-on-1. Elias carried down the right side and slid a backhander between Boucher's pads for his fourth playoff goal.
The turning point came in the final minute of the period. The Devils had just killed a power play when Tocchet had the puck along the left boards and threw the puck in front to a cutting Desjardins, who redirected it past Brodeur.
"Rick Tocchet made another one of his great plays," Philadelphia right wing Keith Jones said. "It was a great effort by Tocchet tonight and a few others. He did everything tonight."
"Rico made a great play," added defenseman Dan McGillis. "Great players make great plays."