The New Jersey Devils refused to hang their heads despite being down one game and one star as they entered Game 2 of Tuesday's Eastern Conference semifinal against the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who had been laboring for a number of games, was finally unable to go because of a lower-body injury.
The Devils bonded without their star, even got a goal from his replacement on the roster and defeated the Flyers, 4-1, to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
For two periods the Devils couldn't solve Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who was stopping one scoring chance after another. The Flyers, behind a goal from Matt Read, took a 1-0 lead after two periods.
Finally, in a bit of irony, the player who took Kovalchuk's place on the roster helped turn things around for the Devils.
That would be 19-year-old defenseman Adam Larsson, appearing in his first postseason game. Larsson took a pass from former Flyer Dainius Zubrus and beat Bryzgalov to the short side with 16 minutes, 52 seconds left in the third period, tying the score at 1-1.
"I am not a goal scorer but I was happy for that," Larsson said. "You could see we got everybody going after that."
Larsson said he was told Monday that he would be in the lineup.
"I had a little bit of rust in the first 5-10 minutes, but the longer the game went, I felt good," he said.
David Clarkson broke the tie by tapping in a rebound with 8:43 left, and Travis Zajac made it 3-1 with 5:59 remaining. Bryce Salvador finished matters with an empty-net goal.
The series now shifts to New Jersey for Game 3 on Thursday. Kovalchuk is listed as day to day and his team should be listed as clearly energized.
"Our response with Kovy being out and having that kind of effort makes us feel good about how we played," said winger Zach Parise.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was beaten to the short side by Read just 2:53 into the game, but Jersey kept grinding.
The Devils outshot the Flyers, 13-9, in the first period. Brodeur had said after Game 1's 4-3 overtime loss that the Devils couldn't play a fast pace because that was playing into the hands of the speedy Flyers.
But the Devils looked comfortable playing that up-tempo style in the first period, when Parise, Ryan Carter, and Adam Henrique were robbed by Bryzgalov.
New Jersey poured it on in the second period, outshooting the Flyers, 12-2, and Henrique and Zubrus were stoned by Bryzgalov.
There is no doubt New Jersey missed Kovalchuk - what team wouldn't?
Yet you couldn't tell by the way the Devils continued to create scoring chances.
Kovalchuk, who had 37 goals and 46 assists in the regular season, has three goals and three assists in his eight playoff games this season.
He had played 21:20 and recorded an assist on Sunday.
"He plays hard and plays a lot, and it can be physically demanding with the amount of ice time he is getting," Parise said during Tuesday's morning skate. "I am not sure what it is, but it must be something for him to sit and it must be pretty significant."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer sent his team a simple message in the absence of its star: "You have to play with the players you have," he said at the morning skate.
The Devils clearly heeded the words of their coach.