NASHVILLE Ilya Bryzgalov made his first start of the second half of the season Saturday night in Music City
Unfortunately, the results were predictably the same. A goal off a players leg, another deflected upward off a bad patch of ice.
What can I do? What can I do? Nothing, Bryzgalov said.
It was just enough to assure a 4-2 Predators victory over the Flyers at Bridgestone Arena even though the Flyers badly out-shot them, 38-25.
It was a frustrating game for our guys, coach Peter Laviolette said. We got the attempts. We turned things back in the direction we wanted and didnt get the results.
You play a couple of games and get wins, but you want a better process through it. Tonight the process was better but you get some tough bounces.
At the other end, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was near impossible to beat with 36 saves.
Hes one of the best goalies in the league, Wayne Simmonds said. I felt some shifts we had traffic shots and some we didnt. When he sees a fair shot, hes going to make a save.
Because of James van Riemsdyks absence with a concussion (see story), Laviolette began the game with Simmonds on Brayden Schenns line with Matt Read, then switched out Schenn with Sean Couturier to generate more offense.
Coots got moved with us and I thought me, Coots and Reader played pretty good together, Simmonds said. We controlled pucks down low. We tried to get traffic in front of the net.
Simmonds, who logged 17 minutes with four shots, scored his 12th goal.
Of concern here is Claude Girouxs slump (see story).
Though he is tied for second in the NHL scoring race with Vancouvers Daniel Sedin (49 points), Giroux now has just one goal in his last 10 games and two since coming back from a concussion.
Im sure you get frustrated a little bit and were trying to talk him out of that, Laviolette said of Giroux. Hes a terrific talent. With all players, theres always peaks and valleys and flow of things.
It would be great if teams and players only experience great things in the course of 82 games, but thats not the way life is. Hes working hard. You can never go wrong with that philosophy.
Rinne had a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Max Talbot got an early shorthanded chance, but the puck was on his backhand.
Soon after the Predators scored at 4:30 off the rush with the Flyers defense in full retreat, Jordin Tootoos backhanded pass into the slot went off Nick Spallings leg.
What can we do? Bryzgalov asked again. But the team played great and deserved to get a point. They battled hard.
Simmonds, who played a hard physical game got it back five minutes later, outworking Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis for a rebound in the crease to make it a one-goal game.
Ironic, given that early in the second period Ellis violently flipped Simmonds like a pancake in one of the best legal hip checks seen anywhere this season.
That was my fault I kinda took a jump there and he made a good play, a good hit, Simmonds said. I tried to cut to the middle and he caught me.
The opening five minutes of the game were frightful as the Flyers defense was on its heels, particularly Andrej Meszaros and rookie Erik Gustafsson. Nashville was all over the crease yet didnt score.
The Predators got off four consecutive shots that had Bryzgalov moving backwards, forwards and sideways trying to find pucks. Roman Josi had three of those shots.
Seconds after that flurry ended, the Preds pinned Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn down and scored off Francis Bourque, but upon review the goal was overruled for kicking the puck.
The Flyers survived, settled down and got some shots from distance on Rinne, but nothing from close range with traffic in front.
Bryzgalov has been burned all season on deflections. During the final minute of the period with Nashville on the power play, Martin Erats shot in the high slot took a freak hop upwards into the net.
Off the ice, Bryzgalov said, shaking his head. He throws the puck and it just jumped off the ice in front of me and goes up. It doesnt hit anybody else.
The Flyers had a couple of better chances on Rinne in the second period, but theres a reason why hes second in the NHL in victories (23). Hes got cat-like reflexes.
You saw that six minutes into the period when he swatted Couturiers open shot out of mid-air as it was headed into the net. That hurt even more because Nashville got a goal at 10:36 from Sergei Kostitsyn to make it 2-0.
The game could have gotten away there, but Couturier came up ice two minutes later and snapped a wrister from the right circle to get the Flyers back into it.
Still, it wasnt enough.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org