The Flyers' $51 million goalie, who talked about a crisis in confidence following his fourth straight sub-par appearance Thursday night, was in control and sharp as a tack Saturday at Wells Fargo Center. He made 24 saves while the line of Claude Giroux, Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell combined for 9 points to lift the Flyers to a 5-1 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Philadelphia snapped a two-game losing streak in which it gave up 14 goals, including Thursday's 9-8 loss to Winnipeg when Bryzgalov stopped only six out of 10 shots in relief of a similarly ineffective Sergei Bobrovsky.
"Pretty quick, huh?" Bryzgalov quipped when he was asked if he is now out of the woods. "You know what? (I used an) iPhone compass."
Jokes aside, Bryzgalov gave the Flyers exactly what they needed through two periods. He made 17 saves to keep Philadelphia locked in a 1-1 tie entering the third.
Bryzgalov's teammates, who admittedly wanted to correct the errors of their game to help their frazzled goalie, responded by surging for four goals in the third. Jagr scored twice and Giroux and Max Talbot each had one to break open what was a 1-1 stalemate after 40 minutes.
Giroux led all Flyers with 4 points on a goal and 3 assists. Jagr had his 2 goals, and Hartnell had a goal and 2 assists. That line has contributed 23 points on 11 goals and 12 assists in the last four games.
"Playing with two superstars like that it's nice for me," said Hartnell, who has 9 points in the four games. "You have to keep the game simple. They do enough by themselves that I don't need to start doing that. I think we complement each other pretty well and we're scoring goals."
Jagr's first of the night and fourth of the season came 39 seconds into the third period when Giroux set him up with a hard pass to the slot from the left wing-half wall. Jagr set up at the left hash mark and whipped a wrist shot underneath Hurricanes goalie Brian Boucher's blocker and inside the left post.
"Probably should cover a guy like that," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said of Jagr. "Yeah, pick him up a little quicker."
Jagr, though, went to the penalty box at 5:12 for interference, a call he disagreed with but nonetheless gave Carolina an opportunity for the tying goal. Instead, it was Giroux and Talbot on the rush that resulted in a 3-1 Flyers lead.
Boucher stopped Giroux's shot, but Talbot crashed hard to cash in on the short-side rebound at 5:36. It was Talbot's third goal and Philadelphia's first shorthanded of the season.
"At 2-1 it still should have stayed a close game," Maurice said. "We have a power play and we have to do more with it. We can't give them one, and that's what we did."
Giroux, who also set up Hartnell for the Flyers first goal 6:57 into the game, got into the goal column 1:50 after Talbot scored. He blew by Jay Harrison and with Jussi Jokinen leaning on him, managed to get a shot past a clearly rattled Boucher, who stopped 19 of 20 shots through the first two periods but gave up goals on three of the first five shots he faced in the third.
Jagr capped the scoring run with his second of the night and fifth in the last four games with 7:43 to play.
Giroux has a team-high 15 points on 7 goals and 8 assists. Jagr and Hartnell are tied for second with 11 points each.
"They do seem to have some chemistry out there," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of his top line. "Hartsie is playing really well, Jaromir has been impressive since he's been here, and Claude has been outstanding."
Perhaps of greater urgency than the continued surge from the Giroux line was a strong night from Bryzgalov, who was 0-4-0 with a 5.14 goals-against average and .802 save percentage over his previous four appearances.
Bryzgalov said he just took some time to himself in the steam room over the last few days to gather his thoughts and get his head screwed back on straight. His teammates, though, knew they needed to give a better defensive effort early in the game in order for Bryzgalov to re-gain his confidence.
The Flyers were guilty of a few turnovers in the opening minutes, but they got better and Bryzgalov had 10 saves through 20 minutes and 17 saves after 40.
"Sometimes you just need to turn the switch on in your head and everything change," Bryzgalov said. "It doesn't mean you have to work the next two years to get in shape. You have the ability to play and you just need to fix your head, turn the switch on and go on."
Jokinen beat him 3:11 into the second period to tie the game at 1-1, but the goal was hardly Bryzgalov's fault. After he made the initial save on Jiri Tlusty, he was knocked out of the crease by a sliding Hartnell. Jokinen picked up the puck at the near goal line to the right of the net and fired it in from the odd angle.
Hartnell's momentum was only strong enough to move Bryzgalov beyond the right post. The net stayed on its moorings. It appeared that Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen tried to knock the net down from the back side, but he didn't move it enough and it bounced back into place as Jokinen's shot was heading in.
The goal was confirmed after a quick review.
"It doesn't matter, shutout or not, we win the game and that's most important thing," Bryzgalov said.
That's true, but how the Flyers won meant just as much.
"The team played very well," Bryzgalov said. "We almost gave them nothing."