Staying Alive: Flyers, Bryzgalov Strong in Rare Shootout Win

Staying Alive: Flyers, Bryzgalov Strong in Rare Shootout Win

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
dead yet.

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College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

College hoops wrap: Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue

Villanova headlined Philly college basketball action today with a 78-68 win over Providence, led by Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins (see full recap). The win is dampened with the news that Phil Booth is increasingly unlikely to return this season as he still deals with knee discomfort (see story).

Here's a snapshot from the rest of area hoops today.

Penn State steamrolled by No. 21 Purdue
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.

Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.

Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.

"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."

Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53) (see full recap).

Drexel drops road game at CAA-leading UNC Wilmington
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Devontae Cacok scored 12 points and set a Colonial Athletic Association record with 24 rebounds, helping UNC Wilmington stay perfect in conference with an 87-74 win over Drexel on Saturday.

Cacok, whose previous career-high rebounding was 16, broke the school record (21) and conference record (22) late in the second half as the Seahawks cruised to their ninth straight home win, tying the best mark in program history.

UNC Wilmington (19-2, 8-0) led 53-51 with 15:01 left before four players combined to rattle off 12 straight points. Cacok capped the run with one of his 11 offensive rebounds and a dunk to give the Seahawks a 65-51 lead with 11:23 remaining.

UNC Wilmington is off to its best start ever and has won 24 of its last 26 conference games, including 12 straight. Chris Flemmings led the Seahawks with 17 points.

Sammy Mojica had 15 points and Rodney Williams added 14 for Drexel (7-13, 1-6), which has lost seven of eight (see full recap).

Delaware swept in season series with Towson
NEWARK, Del. -- Mike Morsell and Arnaud William Adala Moto pulled down a dozen boards as Towson won its fourth straight and a season sweep of Delaware with a 75-58 win on Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers are fresh off a win over Hofstra that saw them erase a 16-point first-half deficit, and momentum carried over when they built a 17-point lead at halftime.

Alex Thomas and John Davis added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but Towson saw its streak of three-straight games shooting better than 50 percent end. The Tigers hit 26 of 55 shots from the floor (47.3 percent), including 6 of 15 from deep.

Delaware snapped a six-game losing streak Thursday with a win over Northeastern. Ryan Daly scored 21 points for Delaware and became the first freshman in school history to post six 20-plus efforts in a season. He reached double-digits for the 12th time in 13 games (see full recap).