- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: The Devils gave Martin Brodeur the best 40th birthday present he could’ve ever asked for Sunday night: a win.
New Jersey took a commanding 3-1 series lead, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Prudential Center.
According to ESPN Stats & Information’s research, the Devils have never blown a series in their history when leading 3-1 (9-0).
Brodeur (7-3 2012 playoffs, 106-85 all-time) made 20 saves to record the postseason victory. According to Elias, Brodeur is the first goaltender in NHL history to appear in a playoff game as a teenager and as a 40-year-old.
The Devils outshot the Flyers 43-22 -- including 32-12 over the first two periods.
Philadelphia, which showed little sense of urgency and desperation, dropped to 1-5 in the postseason when scoring first. The Devils are 4-1 at The Rock in the postseason, and have won four straight there.
Ilya Bryzgalov valiantly stopped 40 shots in defeat. He was not the reason his team finds itself in this nearly insurmountable hole.
Z-DIRECTION: Marek Zidlicky put a perfect pass on Petr Sykora's tape for a first-period power-play re-direction goal, then scored to knot the game at 2 when he pinched in and deflected Bryce Salvador's pass into the net from between the hashmarks. It was Zidlicky’s first goal of the playoffs.
BEST AROUND: Claude Giroux, who had just one point through the first three games of the series, had quite the first period. The all-world youngster set up Scott Hartnell's power-play goal, then scored one of his own when he split Ilya Kovalchuk (one assist, 10 postseason points) and Zidlicky, moved in on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Brodeur over his right pad to give Philadelphia a 2-0 edge. Giroux now has 17 points in the postseason.
ZUUUUBES: Dainius Zubrus' second goal of the playoffs gave the Devils a 3-2 lead with 2:13 left in the second. After Sykora worked the puck to Adam Henrique in the corner, Henrique sent a pass in front for Zubrus to one-time home from the bottom of the right circle.
With 3.6 seconds left in the second, the right winger sustained a shoulder to the head from Giroux and left for the dressing room. Zubrus returned for the start of the third period, however, and took his regular shifts the rest of the frame. It is possible that Giroux could merit a call from the NHL for the hit.
Zubrus finished off the Flyers with an empty-netter with 44.4 seconds remaining.
LET’S TAKE SHOTS: The Devils took the first 11 shots of the second period. The Flyers didn’t get their first shot in the middle frame until there was 7:43 left.
ONE CHANGE: For the Devils, Tim Sestito dressed in place of fourth-line left winger Ryan Carter, who missed Game 4 due to illness. The rest of the lines and defensive pairings remained the same from Game 3 as of the opening faceoff.
Coach Peter DeBoer would change the lines midway through the game, however.
UP NEXT: Game 5 on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
36dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald