Winger Rod Brind'Amour, who scored the Flyers' fourth goal late in the second period and assisted on their second goal in the first period, said he was glad to see his team compete for the full 60 minutes. In this team's case, that might be considered a large success.
"We're sad because we thought we could win this game," Brind'Amour said. ''But we didn't give up even when we got down. We didn't fold the tents. We kept working hard, and that was positive."
What wasn't positive was that the Flyers allowed the Devils to score three consecutive goals in the second period to overcome a 3-1 Flyers lead. What wasn't positive was that the fifth-place Flyers had a golden opportunity to pick up two points in the division race because Devils goalie Chris Terreri wasn't very sharp for a change.
However, recounting negatives tends to interfere with the celebration of small victories. It's those big victories the Flyers are seeking, and they will have plenty of chances to get them as they play five division games in the next 15 days.
On the plus side, the game was there for the Flyers to win. Tied with the Devils, 4-4, going into the third period, the Flyers grabbed a 5-4 lead when Dan Quinn took a pass from Terry Carkner in the right circle and beat Terreri on a power play at 1 minute, 59 seconds.
Quinn, who was traded to the Flyers from St. Louis in September, was so unhappy with his play on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins that he skipped the Flyers' flight back to Philadelphia on Thursday and stayed in Pittsburgh an extra day to mentally regroup.
The rest apparently did the veteran center, who rejoined the Flyers for practice on Friday, some good. He scored his third goal of the season when the Flyers needed it most.
"That's a big goal," Holmgren said. "It was a nicely set up power-play goal, which we haven't seen too many of this year."
However, New Jersey's Claude Lemieux scored his second goal of the game on a three-on-one matchup at 12:26 to send the game into overtime. Neither team could score in overtime, although both teams had good chances.
The Flyers appeared to be in good shape at the start of the second period. Thanks to first-period goals by Brad Jones and Dave Brown, they led, 2-1. They
went ahead, 3-1, just 1:15 into the period when Andrei Lomakin scored his seventh goal of the season on a nifty backhander from the left post.
Then the Spectrum roof fell in.
The Devils drew within a goal at 4:38 when rookie center Kevin Todd knocked a rebound near the right post past Flyers goalie Ken Wregget.
The Devils tied the score, 3-3, 23 seconds later when veteran center Peter Stastny beat Wregget from the right circle.
Nineteen seconds after that, at 5:20, the Devils took the lead when right winger Doug Brown beat Wregget high to the right corner of the net on a penalty shot. Brown, who had just three goals going into the game, was awarded the shot by referee Kerry Fraser after Flyers defenseman Kjell Samuelsson had pulled Brown down from behind on a breakaway.
At first, it seemed as if the Flyers were going to go down quietly after the Devils' rally. They appeared to have lost their edge. They seemed shaken.
"It took the wind out of our sails a little bit," Jones said. "But we came right back. That showed a lot of character in us."
Jones led the charge. With Flyers defenseman Corey Foster in the penalty box for tripping, Jones passed to Brind'Amour in the slot, and Brind'Amour scored his sixth goal of the season and his NHL-best fourth short-handed goal to tie the score, 4-4, with 2:42 left in the second period.
As has been their custom of late, the Flyers played a strong first period. Jones scored the first goal and his third of the season just 1:22 into the game, and Brown scored his first goal of the season with two minutes left in the period.
Lemieux scored his 15th goal of the season, at 11:03, to keep the Devils close.
With Pelle Eklund sidelined with a bruised left shoulder, Tony Horacek opened the game at left wing on the Flyers' top line with right winger Rick Tocchet and center Mike Ricci. But it was the line of Jones, Kevin Dineen and Quinn that teamed up for the first goal. With Dineen barreling down the slot and distracting Terreri, Jones streaked through the right circle and beat Terreri from in close.
The Devils, who were coming off a big 8-2 victory over Hartford on Friday, tied the score at 1 when Lemieux took advantage of a bad bounce. It looked as if Samuelsson had intercepted a pass from David Maley at the Flyers' blue line, but the puck bounced over Samuelsson's stick. Lemieux got to the free puck first and beat Wregget one-on-one from the right post.
Brown's goal gave the Flyers the lead at 18:00 when he took a pass from Mark Howe in the slot and shot the puck between Terreri's legs.