General manager Paul Holmgren said the team needed to
compete better. The Flyers’ players responded on Friday night, grinding it out
against the New Jersey Devils for 65 minutes before picking up the unusual 2-1
shootout victory. Imagine that.
It was a gritty effort from the Flyers, who were far stronger
in their own end than they have been for much of the season. Fewer sloppy turnovers
meant fewer rushes, while there were none of the all-around collapses that
often lead to opponents skating freely with the puck through Philadelphia’s
zone. They were exceptional on the penalty kill as well, including on a five-on-three in the opening period that may have provided some of the momentum.
When there were breakdowns or the Devils won the battles, Ilya Bryzgalov
was up to the task. The cosmonaut made his share of incredible saves in this
one, seemingly gaining confidence as the game wore on. Bryz stopped 27 of 28
shots, the lone score coming off of a deflection. Then he shut the door in
the shootout, proving that he can actually win a one-on-one.
A good thing, because Peter Laviolette may have sacrificed
some offense for the sake of his defense. The Flyers had just the lone goal off a
beautiful hesitation pass from Simon Gagne to Max Talbot, who received the puck
on Johan Hedberg’s front porch with an empty net. Orange & Black had 22
shots total, but fewer in every period, and just three in the third.
It was enough though, and exactly the kind of effort they
needed to pick up their first win on New Jersey in eight tries going back to
last year’s playoffs. Speaking of which, they may have only gained one point on
the Devils, and actually were minus-one for the home-and-home series, but the first step was
turning their luck around. If they produce more efforts like this, the Flyers are not
>> BOX SCORE
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