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Devils' chance on rookie pays off

New Jersey rookie Adam Larsson, scratched in Game 1, scores at 3:08 of the third to tie the score in Tuesday’s Game 2 against the Flyers. The Devils came back to win 4-1 and tie the series.

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New Jersey rookie Adam Larsson, scratched in Game 1, scores at 3:08 of the third to tie the score in Tuesday’s Game 2 against the Flyers. The Devils came back to win 4-1 and tie the series.

PHILADELPHIA — Adam Larsson watched Game 1 from the press box, dressed sharply in a suit and tie. He sat helpless as he watched his Devils lose a tough road opener in the Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Flyers in overtime.

In Game 2, though, he received his chance to shed the suit and don a uniform.

And the 19-year-old rookie took full advantage.

Larsson scored the first postseason goal of his career off a wrist shot in the third, igniting a four-goal explosion in the period, as the Devils rallied to a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The best of seven series is tied at 1-1.

"I know how the playoffs (are)," Larsson said. "I watched all the games from the stands. I know that everybody steps up a little bit. I knew in my mind, if I wanted to stay in the lineup, I had to step it up."

Larsson and Clarkson scored consecutive goals in the third period to rally the Devils past the Flyers and make up for the absence of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils played without their regular-season leading scorer because of a lower-body injury.

Travis Zajac added a late goal to make it 3-1, and Bryce Salvador scored a late empty-netter for the Devils.

Game 3 is Thursday in Newark, N.J.

Matt Read scored 2:53 in to give the Flyers an early jump. But the offense went into a funk and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov couldn't protect the advantage.

Bryzgalov, who signed a $51 million, nine-year deal over the summer, was especially stout in the second when he bailed out the Flyers offense with a 12-save period. The Flyers went more than 18 minutes before taking a shot on Martin Brodeur.

"I didn't sense frustration. We were comfortable with how we played the first two periods," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "And it was just a matter of keeping it going in the third. And the goals came."

Bryzgalov had a brutal first five games of the postseason and allowed 20 goals against Pittsburgh. But he shut down the Penguins in the Game 6 clincher, a 5-1 win, and let in three goals in Game 1 against the Devils.

He appeared to have turned the corner.

Then came the final period.

Kovalchuk's injury opened a roster spot for Larsson, a rookie defenseman, to be activated. Larsson had two goals and 18 points in his first season but made his playoff debut Tuesday.

"Down a goal, third period, and it was huge," DeBoer said of the rookie's goal. "I feel great for Larsson. He's been out a few games, and he responded."

Devils 0 0 4 4
Flyers 1 0 0 1

First Period1, Philadelphia, Read 3 (Schenn, Simmonds), 2:53. Penaltiesvan Riemsdyk, Phi (slashing), 4:22; Timonen, Phi (hooking), 9:26; Gionta, NJ (slashing), 14:18; Salvador, NJ (interference), 20:00.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesBriere, Phi (holding), 12:49; Henrique, NJ (slashing), 18:44.

Third Period2, New Jersey, Larsson 1 (Zubrus, Harrold), 3:08. 3, New Jersey, Clarkson 1 (Parise), 11:17. 4, New Jersey, Zajac 5 (Gionta, Zubrus), 14:01. 5, New Jersey, Salvador 1 (Henrique), 17:09 (en-sh). PenaltiesZidlicky, NJ (elbowing), 1:39; Hartnell, Phi (holding stick), 1:52; Zubrus, NJ (interference), 15:35; Clarkson, NJ (roughing), 19:44; Lilja, Phi (roughing), 19:44; Talbot, Phi, misconduct, 19:44; Simmonds, Phi, minor-misconduct (roughing), 20:00. Shots on GoalNew Jersey 13-12-10—35. Philadelphia 9-2-9—20. Power-play opportunitiesNew Jersey 0 of 4; Philadelphia 0 of 5. GoaliesNew Jersey, Brodeur 5-3-0 (20 shots-19 saves). Philadelphia, Bryzgalov 5-3-0 (34-31). A20,131 (19,537). T2:25.

PREDATORS SUSPEND TWO: Predators forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn have been suspended for tonight's Game 3 for violating unspecified team rules. General manager David Poile refused to specify what Radulov and Kostitsyn did, but called their behavior unfortunate and selfish.

Devils' chance on rookie pays off 05/01/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 12:18am]
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