NEWARK, N.J. - The Flyers briskly exited the dressing room Friday night into a corridor and then to a waiting bus at the Prudential Center, a walk that included a familiar feeling in this venue.
Their 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils was the Flyers' sixth consecutive to the Devils, a skid that includes the 2012 postseason. Four of those defeats came in New Jersey, and the Flyers have not won on the Devils' ice in their last five attempts.
Friday offered a chance to halt the drought, especially when the Flyers jumped to a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. They did not score the rest of the game, though, while the Devils added four unanswered goals.
"I guess the first period we were on the attack offensively, and the second and third period, not quite as much," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "They picked up their game a little bit. They had their chances in the second and third, and they scored on them."
The Flyers also lost defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who exited the game with a lower-body injury.
Laviolette was particularly vexed about twice allowing first-minute goals. The Devils scored 40 seconds into the game and in the first minute of the second period.
"That's unacceptable," Laviolette said. "We've got to take care of the puck, make good decisions, be in the right spots defensively, and defend the run properly. Things we continue to harp on."
The Flyers were at least able to rebound from the first one. The game was tied in the first period when Wayne Simmonds scored on assists from Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux during a power play. The Flyers scored two more goals in the next three minutes, with Mike Knuble netting his second of the season, and Matt Read giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead on Giroux's second assist.
That was the score at the first intermission, an enviable position for a Flyers team that has struggled to score this season. In fact, the Flyers have led after the first period just three other times this season. They won each of those games.
Not Friday, when they could not hold onto the lead. The Devils dominated the second period, beginning with Alexei Ponikarovsky slipping a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov 26 seconds after the break. The Devils waited more than 15 minutes before tying the score on Patrik Elias' goal.
That set up the decisive third period. The Devils continued to dominate the Flyers, with David Clarkson deflecting in the game-winner after the Flyers could not clear the zone. An empty-netter sealed the eventual result.
The Devils' five goals came on just 19 shots. The Flyers attempted 28 shots, but 40-year-old longtime nemesis Martin Brodeur saved 25, including 17 in the final two periods.
"The whole game we kind of gave the puck to Brodeur and he played it. It's pretty easy for him," Giroux said.
The Flyers have little time to stew over Friday's missed opportunity: One reason for the postgame rush was a need to get to Montreal for the second end of this weekend's back-to-back. They return to New Jersey on March 13, their only remaining opportunity to secure a regular-season win this year at an arena that has been unkind to them.
"We played a good game," Giroux said, "but at the end of the day it seems to be going into the third we have to find a way to get that win."
The Flyers on Friday embarked on a difficult stretch that will see them play five games in a seven-day stretch.
at Devils L, 5-3
at Canadiens Saturday
at Islanders Monday
at Penguins Wednesday