SPORTS

Ponikarovsky, Kovalchuk give Devils series lead

05/04/2012 12:19 EDT | Updated 07/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Alexei Ponikarovsky potted his own rebound at 17:21 of overtime on Thursday night to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 home victory over the Phiadelphia Flyers.

The Devils lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-1.

The teams return to Prudential Center for Game 4 on Sunday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7:30 p.m. ET).

Ponikarovsky took an Ilya Kovalchuk pass in stride at the Philadelphia blue-line and found a seam between two Flyers, skating in on the left side and beating Ilya Bryzgalov with his second shot.

Philadelphia forward Daniel Briere scored his NHL-best eighth of the playoffs with under 10 minutes left in the third to help send the game in overtime.

Brayden Schenn opened the scoring for the Flyers with a power-play goal just over six minutes into the first, but the Devils had the lead just under seven minutes later after scoring twice in 20 seconds.

Kovalchuk finished with a goal and two assists. He assisted on a Patrik Elias power-play score in the first and then scored his fourth of the playoffs moments later.

Kovalchuk was back in the lineup after missing Game 2 due to a back injury.

Matt Carle tied the game again in the second for the Flyers but was victimized along with defensive partner Andreas Lilja early in the third as Elias set up Zach Parise for a 3-2 New Jersey lead that would only last four minutes.

Philadelphia lost for the first time in overtime this spring, having won their previous two such contests. New Jersey is now 3-1 in overtime games this postseason.

Martin Brodeur finished with 25 saves, with counterpart Bryzgalov stopping 27 shots.

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