NEWARK, N.J. - The joy that Danny Briere showed after scoring the game-winning goal to open this series is long gone. He's angry now. Angry at himself. Angry at his fellow teammates on the power-play units.
The headlines will say that Alex Ponikarovsky scored in overtime to give the Devils a 4-3 victory and a 2-1 series lead over the Flyers. Briere will say the game was decided before Ponikarovsky's goal.
The Flyers were given two power-play chances in overtime and (obviously) failed to capitalize on both. They were too cute when Dainius Zubrus was sent to the box for boarding Matt Carle and downright listless when Bryce Salvador was sent off for delay of game. Ponikarovsky made the Flyers pay 5 minutes later by knocking in his own rebound past Ilya Bryzgalov.
"The power play cost us the game tonight," Briere said disgustedly. "For the 10 to 12 guys that are on the power play, it's time to step up. [We need to] wanna be out there instead. It's an honor to be out there, and right now, we take it for granted."
Special teams was one of the interesting subplots coming into this series. The Flyers converted a ridiculous 12-for-23 (52.2 percent) against the Penguins. The Devils set a modern NHL record by allowing conversions on 10.4 percent during the regular season.
After tallying only the one goal in 18 minutes, 24 seconds of power-play time in Games 1 and 2, the Flyers moved the puck more crisply in earlier chances and scored a goal when Brayden Schenn beat Marty Brodeur in the first period. They would have added a second score, but it was wiped out when a goaltender interference call on Schenn nullified a goal by James van Riemsdyk in the second period.
Schenn said afterward he probably made contact with Brodeur. After the disallowed call, the Devils resumed shutting down the Flyers' power plays.
"I was just trying to protect it the first two games by saying good things were going to happen and that it was a matter of time," Briere said. "But the all-around effort on the power play was not good enough. It seems like we just think they're going to let us do whatever we want out there."
The Flyers were 1-for-5 for the game, with five shots in nearly 9 minutes with the advantage. They had only one shot in their two overtime chances. Briere had zero shots in almost 4 minutes on the power play.
"Either we're not winning the battles or we're not getting in there to help someone out," he said. "They're shorthanded, and they're outnumbering us to the puck left and right. When I say that, I include myself, too."
After clicking on more than half of their advantages in round one, the Flyers are only 2-for-16 against the Devils.
"Their penalty-kill unit is outworking us by a mile, and it's the reason we've lost the last two games," Briere said. "If the power play is hungry, we could be up, 3-0. But we're down, 2-1."
Flyers rookie Sean Couturier was injured in the first period after tangling with David Clarkson along the boards. It was reported that he had suffered a cut to his leg, but general manager Paul Holmgren said only that it was a lower-body injury and that an update would be made Friday.
Couturier was at the arena after the game, though he was limping. He played only five shifts and saw 3 minutes, 59 seconds of ice time.