NEWARK, N.J. - Jeff Carter is not employed by the Flyers to be live entertainment in the postgame locker room.
The 23-year-old center can be a painful interview. Ask him how it is he is leading the league in goal scoring or what makes his line tick, and the chances are he'll say something like "Just having fun," or "Keeping it simple," or "I don't know."
Maybe that's just the way it is for him: Playing hockey is an uncomplicated process that can be boiled down to skate, pass, shoot, check, score goals.
So who cares what he says or doesn't say after games, because what he does on the ice these days is entertainment enough. Even in a game that the Flyers lost in a shootout, 3-2, to New Jersey yesterday in the Prudential Center, Carter and his line just continued to plug along, skating, passing, shooting, checking and scoring goals.
Carter and Joffrey Lupul both scored and Mike Richards scored in the shootout. But Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac scored shootout goals to win it for the Devils.
The Flyers lost Scottie Upshall early in the second period when he was knocked backwards by Bobby Holik. He hit the ice awkwardly, got up and limped to the bench with a sore right knee. He did not return and was listed as out with a "lower-body" injury. He said it "was just a sore knee;" he'll see how it feels today.
So the Flyers had to settle for a point, but considering they were playing on consecutive afternoons and that Antero Niittymaki has not had a break in four games because of the flu that has sidelined Marty Biron, it was not a horrible result.
In the past seven games Carter, Lupul and Scott Hartnell have scored a total of 34 points - Carter has six goals, seven assists, Lupul has four goals, six assists, and Hartnell has seven and four.
Carter's goal yesterday was his 25th and put him back in the league lead.
"I don't know, we're just going," said Carter. "Just kind of putting the thing on net and [Hartnell] is banging in the crease. We're winning battles and it's been going."
And so the Flyers continue to pile up points, stats and penalty minutes.
For the third game in a row, they took three minor penalties in the first period, making it difficult to start the game.
John Stevens is not saying the Flyers are a target, but he did suggest that his team is being used by the officials, and that some of what is being called is not exactly up to NHL standards.
Like the tripping call on Kimmo Timonen when Patrik Elias stepped on the defenseman's stick and fell down.
"They try to impose the standard of the hockey game," Stevens said. "I thought our penalty kill did a good job but it's a tough way to start hockey games. You end up taxing people too much and getting their good players on the ice with dangerous power plays. We have to find a way to get it stopped."
As Mike Richards put it: "Killing penalties [stinks]. It's hard work, it drains you, it takes all the momentum away unless you have a big kill. But it's something we have to be aware of and be disciplined and try to clean up."
Fortunately, in the first period the Flyers' penalty kill was solid and New Jersey was not able to score. But between hooking and tripping penalties on Timonen and the hooking call on Darroll Powe in the first period, the Flyers were on their heels for 6 minutes.
"I think my calls were very weak," Timonen said. "On the first one [hooking] I didn't touch the guy and the second one he stepped on my stick. The other ref said it was a bad call. But what do you do? You can't control that so you just have to get going."
The period ended tied, 0-0, with the shots knotted at 10.
But give a good team enough chances and they eventually will score. Hartnell provided just such an opportunity. Shoving Dainius Zubrus to the ice behind the play, he was called for roughing; Elias scored on a rebound, giving the Devils a 1-0, second-period lead.
One minute, 6 six seconds later, New Jersey won a series of puck battles down low and jumped to a 2-0 lead on Brian Rolston's goal.
The Flyers cut the lead by one on Carter's 25th, as he jabbed a backhanded shot past Scott Clemmensen on the team's first power play of the game.
"It was just a good play by [Timonen]," Carter said. "He was real patient, just walking down the wall and found a hole. [Lupul] just kind of threw it out front and I was able to get a stick on it."
Lupul tied the game in the third when Carter spun away from Zubrus and slipped a quick pass onto Lupul's stick in the crease to make it 2-2 with 4:44 left in regulation.
That's where it stayed through the overtime. The shootout started the right way with Richards scoring but Gagne, Carter, Timonen and Lupul all missed their chances.
"It's a good point for us," Lupul said. "In the shootout we had our chances to win it. We had some good chances in the overtime too.
"We're not completely satisfied, but we'll take one." *