The hallmark of the Devils’ three Stanley Cup championship teams was a cold, ruthless efficiency.
This year’s Devils team, presented with an opportunity to take a stranglehold on their Eastern
Conference semifinal series against the Flyers, showed that same heart.
New Jersey took a 3-1 series lead over the Flyers last night at the Prudential Center with a deceiving 4-2 margin of victory.
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"It feels good. We can enjoy it for a little bit," Zach Parise said. "We know there's a lot of hockey to be played — a lot of work we have to do."
The Devils continued to employ Peter DeBoer's series-long strategy of forcing the Flyers to defend their forecheck and cycle attack. It paid dividends, as it had in Games 2 and 3.
"It's paid off," Parise said. "We're trying to play the same way. We feel it's working for us."
The Devils spent the majority of the evening circling around Ilya Bryzgalov’s net and finished with a 36-17 advantage in shots on goal.
"We feel we're a good hockey club five-on-five," Martin Brodeur said. "It's puck possession. That's the bottom line. We're doing well defensively, but we're not spending time in their zone. We're playing good, solid hockey. We're spending good, quality minutes in the offensive zone."
Moreover, they continued to frustrate the Flyers, underscored by Claude Giroux’s dangerous elbow to the head of Dainius Zubrus at the end of the second period.
"We've done a good job all series staying away from that stuff," Parise said. When asked about the hit, the captain of the Devils said he "didn't see it."
Zubrus scored the game-winner at 17:47 in the second and added an empty-netter as well.
"He's played really well in the playoffs," Parise said of Zubrus. "It's good to see him get rewarded like that."
Marek Zidlicky and Petr Sykora led the way with two points — a goal and an assist each in the first period. Martin Broduer made 19 saves on his 40th birthday. His only blemishes were Giroux and Scott Hartnell markers 2:10 apart in the first period.
Bryzgalov made 40 saves for Philadelphia.
The Devils will have a chance to win the series in Game 5 tomorrow night at Wells Fargo Center.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman for complete coverage throughout the postseason.