for this game

Gionta's third-period deflection lifts Devils past Flyers

Oct 15, 2006 - 2:12 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- Brian Gionta knew exactly what to do for an encore.

Gionta scored the decisive goal 3:33 into the third period as the New Jersey Devils captured a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

With the game tied at 2-2 early in the final session, Gionta got a piece of a blast by defenseman Brian Rafalski and deflected the puck past goaltender Antero Niittymaki. It was the fourth tally of the season for Gionta, who recorded a hat trick in New Jersey's 7-6 shootout win vs. Toronto on Thursday.

"I was trying to get a good shot on net," Rafalski said. "I knew I had a good lane. The goalie is playing the shot and if Brian gets a piece of it, he can't react that fast. Goalies will see a straight-on shot and stop it most times. The deflections are difficult for them."

Claude Julien has only been the Devils' coach for four games, but he already is impressed by what he sees from Gionta.

"Even after he scored that goal, my comment to (assistant coach) John MaClain was 'This guy really gets his nose dirty in front of the net,'" Julien said. "He is so good at picking up those pucks with his stick and tipping them in. The result is they become timely goals and important goals."

Gionta, who scored a franchise-record 48 goals last season, is listed at just 5-7, 175 pounds. But in the new NHL, size usually takes a back seat to speed and toughness.

"You don't gauge those players by their size, gauge them by their heart," Julien said. "He is not afraid to go to the tough areas, the busy areas where there is traffic. That's why he gets rewarded. We can see that he takes a beating sometimes but he gets right back up and stands there again."

Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner also scored and Rafalski had three assists for New Jersey. Martin Brodeur, who surrendered a career-worst five goals Thursday, turned aside 23 shots as the Devils won their fifth straight home game against the Flyers.

"Besides taking a lot of penalties, I thought this was a very good win," Brodeur said. "We wanted to play an up-tempo game with guys going to the net. We had good energy late in the game. Guys really committed to a solid third period. A lot of shots were not getting through."

Niittymaki made 29 saves and Mike Knuble scored both goals for Philadelphia, which has lost four of its first five games this season.

"We played a really good hockey game for the first 35 minutes," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They took advantage of our mistakes. That's what happens against a good team."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!