- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: As expected, the best of the East fended off the worst. The Philadelphia Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 Thursday night at the Prudential Center. The Devils (10-28-2) have now dropped three in a row.
MOOSE VS. BOOSH: In the battle of goaltenders with sweet nicknames yelled by fans when they make a great save, it was Brian Boucher who notched the victory over Johan Hedberg. Boosh made 18 saves, while Hedberg stopped 16 shots. Hedberg was making his second consecutive start as Martin Brodeur looked on from the bench. And it remains to be seen if he'll make a third.
TAKE YOUR HATS BACK: Tough way to lose your hat, Mr. Fan. After Danny Briere's second goal of the game gave the Flyers a 4-2 lead at 11:34 of the third period, someone thought that the goal was going to be credit to Scott Hartnell, who already had two. But it was indeed Briere who cut to the net and beat Hedberg. And instead of a hat trick celebration, it just became some guy throwing his hat on the ice for no reason. Briere (19th and 20th) and Hartnell (11th and 12th) each finished with a pair of tallies. Briere's first proved to be the decisive one as he ripped a one-timer from the high slot by Hedberg at 2:48, five seconds after a Flyers power play had elapsed.
PLAY ON: David Clarkson snapped his 16-game scoring drought by netting his fifth of the season on a breakaway, making it 2-1 Devils at 17:40 of the second period. Andy Greene sailed a perfect pass to Clarkson, who sped in on Boucher. He roofed a shot over Boucher, but despite putting his arms up to celebrate, play continued. Upon further review, Clarkson's shot hit the bar and the goal counted. It was his first tally since Nov. 24.
NOT AGAIN: Once again, the boards decided to be Hedberg's worst enemy. Just 4:14 into the second period, Villie Leino (three assists) dumped the puck in off the end boards. Hedberg left his crease to go play it, but it took an odd carom and deflected right in front to Hartnell, who deposited it into an empty net. The fluke goal tied the game at 1-1.
FAST START: The Devils generated their first shot early and got the game's first goal when Dainus Zubrus was able to redirect Anton Volchenkov's wrister from the right point into the net. The shots in the opening frame were 7-7 -- or six more shots than the Devils got in the first 20 minutes during the first period of their 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
POWER OUTAGE: Jacques Lemaire took over as interim head coach, the Devils power play has been non-existent. New Jersey entered Thursday night's action one for its last 19 on the man-advantage. And the Devils went 0-for-1 in this one. Yes, make it 1-for-20.
WHERE'S THE C? Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias were wearing their customary "A's," but there was no "C." That's because captain Jamie Langenbrunner has been asked to waive his no-trade clause. Langenbrunner was out of the lineup as GM Lou Lamoriello continues to search for a new home for his right winger. Langenbrunner said before the game that a trade is imminent. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is in the building and rumors are swirling that Philadelphia has offered a pair of draft picks for Langenbrunner. For the record, the Devils and Flyers have never made a trade with one another.
RECORD-BREAKER: With a secondary assist on Zubrus' goal in the first period, Elias became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Devils-Flyers rivalry. It was Elias' 65th point. Can you guess who he surpassed? All right, time's up. The answer: his ex-coach, John MacLean, who had 64.
UP NEXT: The Flyers. Again. This time, the two teams will head south to the City of Brotherly love for an afternoon game on Saturday. And it doesn't get any easier from there. The Devils will return home Sunday for a matinee matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.