There were many underlying themes in this one and the most obvious was Ilya Bryzgalov facing his former team.
Bryzgalov came out on top and was spectacular, stopping 30 of 31 shots from his former teammates, but he also exemplified perhaps the most important aspect of the win. It was a hard fought contest that BOTH teams desperately wanted to win.
"Ya know, it’s nice when your own team scores the last minute and not much time left to bounce back from the other team, especially from a tough game like this,” said Bryzgalov.
That was never more present than right off the bat for the Coyotes, who fired 16 pucks towards Bryzgalov in the first period alone.
It wasn’t a one-man show however. The entire team has been sticking together, playing hard and most importantly, holding leads and fighting off the opponents attack when it matters the most.
“You need to play in those tight games and know how to win them,” said Flyers captain Chris Pronger. “We’ve had games where we have lost leads late and lost in the shoot out or overtime, whatever the case may be. We lost the lead in the third period but we really stuck with it and really pressed.
During their streak of going eight games without being beaten in regulation, five of those contests have been one-goal games.
What was clear tonight is that it was another grind-it-out game and that the Flyers are starting to come out on top more often than not.
“I thought our guys played hard,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “It was a hard fought 60 minutes. I thought Phoenix played hard as well. It was one of those games… if you relax for a minute or if you get casual for a bit, it can really hurt you. I thought we did a terrific job staying with it for 60 minutes.”
- The Flyers now have points in eight consecutive games, going 6-0-2 in that stretch (14 of possible 16 pts).
- Rookie Matt Read scored his sixth goal of the season, which ranks second in the NHL among all rookies. His 11 points rank fourth in that same category, while his plus-minus rating of +6 is tied for second.
- Fellow rookie Sean Couturier leads all NHL rookies with a plus-minus rating of +9.
- Before tonight, the Flyers and Phoenix were the only two teams that had only one road loss. Now the Flyers stand alone in that category.
- This is the third time this season the Flyers have had 40 or more shots in a game, but just the first time they have won in that circumstance.
Bryzgalov had the spotlight on him for the past two days and he certainly came through in tonight's game.
The ex-Coyote stopped all 16 shots in the first period, 30 of 31 shots in total and kept Phoenix scoreless throughout all eight minutes of power-play time.
Bryz made it known early that he was on his A-game after flashing the leather on Coyotes’ leading scorer Ray Whitney who went in all along on a break away but was robbed went he tried to go high-glove.
“We love Bryz. He’s a huge part of this team, and a great person. Whatever other people say, who cares?” - Flyers GM Paul Holmgren
“Well, I think the execution has been really good. I think that maybe there is a little bit of continuity with some of the players that are going out on the ice. And then it comes down to execution." - Peter Laviolette
“You'd know if I was starting a riot out there, you'd know (laughter). But I don't know, I don't know if I deserved it. Maybe I did something, I'm not sure, but I don't recall doing anything to deserve that ten. That's just the way the game goes and you have to look positive, you can't look negatively at all...you just have to plow through it” - Zac Rinaldo
Tonight’s turning point is an easy one.
Matt Read’s game-winning goal with just 18.4 seconds left in the clock broke a 1-1 tie in a game that was looking like it was going to 4-on-4 overtime or even a shootout with momentum on the side of the Coyotes.
Read’s sixth of the season came in a scramble out in front of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith, where he made no mistake and put it into the empty net.
It also gave the Flyers a full two points, denying the Coyotes a point in the standings.
PIC OF THE NIGHT: Matt Read scores the game-winning goal with 18 seconds left in regulation.
Flyers 2, Coyotes 1 Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Ilya Bryzgalov needed a big boost at the end to get the victory he badly wanted against his former team.
Matt Read knocked in a rebound with 18.6 seconds left to make a winner out Bryzgalov and lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.