Flyers fans may have been a little surprised to hear that Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette announce his starting goaltender to be Ilya Bryzgalov.
After all, Bryzgalov had played three straight games on the road and the team was playing it’s second half of games on back-to-back nights.
During all three periods, Bryzgalov’s actions spoke for themselves and solidified Laviolette’s decision.
“I thought he was very steady especially at the end he shinned in the last 10 minutes of the game, when it seemed they were starting to press a little bit and the puck was coming at our net more,” said Laviolette. “I thought that he did a good job at staying focused and making the saves that we needed to in order to walk out with the two points.”
He stopped all eight shots he faced in the opening period including a great save on Evgeni Malkin six minutes into the game.
The Flyers, unlike their last two comeback attempts, got out to a 3-0 lead and the task ended up being to hold the Eastern Conference’s best at bay for the remaining period and a half.
And the Pens definitely put up a fight; throwing more shots at the net in the third period alone than the first two periods combined.
Despite allowing two goals, Bryz came up with the big save in the waning moments of the game to hold the lead and as a result was able to steal the Eastern Conference Title lead away from their intra-state rivals.
With tonight’s win, the Flyers have moved into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. They are 17-7-3 for 37 points, one point ahead of Pittsburgh and Florida.
The Flyers have now won four straight games, three of which have been decided by one goal and are a perfect 4-0-0 in teh month of December.
The Flyers are also 11-3-2 in their last 16 games and now have the most regulation wins in the NHL (17).
Claude Giroux picked up an assist tonight to increase his league-leading points total to 37 (16G, 21A). He is two points ahead of Toronto’s Phil Kessel.
Andrej Meszaros recorded seven hits tonight, as well as three blocked shots.
The 6-2, 183-pound gritty forward posted a goal and an assist tonight for his first two-point game of his Flyers career.
He factored into the first two Flyers goals of the evening, setting up Danny Briere for what was a very odd, pinball-type of goal to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead and just past the midway point of the second period he finished off a nice feed from the side of the net by Andrej Meszaros for his sixth goal of the year.
After going scoreless in his previous seven games, Simmonds has recorded two goals and three points in his last three games.
"Emotionally it was exciting. I took it as a challenge. So, the guys battled and everybody knew. A lot of guys in the dressing room when there was goal they were looking at me. It was great, it was a great feeling and everybody battled hard. It's behind me now." - Max Talbot
“Yeah, seemed like we were trying to get the puck out and they were keeping it in. Malkin seemed to have the puck on a string there for a while...But Bryz made some great saves for us and definitely came up huge there in the third period.” - Scott Hartnell
“Yeah, I mean it was a good test for us obviously. Pittsburgh is on top of the standings. We were pretty excited to play them, especially Max (Talbot) and Jags (Jagr). It was good to get a win for them.” - Claude Giroux
Tonight’s turning point was the final five minutes of the third period.
After giving up two goals to a streaking Penguins team, the Flyers defense, led by their goaltender, shut the door to hold on for a regulation win.
The Pens had chances from Craig Adams, who was denied on the door-step off a one-timer, and Evgeni Malking right up until the final seconds of the game.
PIC OF THE NIGHT: Wayne Simmonds scores a power-play goal in the second period.
Penguins star Sidney Crosby missed the first of two games as a precaution following a collision with teammate Chris Kunitz in Monday night's loss to Boston. Doctors told Crosby there was no indication he suffered another concussion. The 24-year-old suffered from concussion-like symptoms that sidelined him for more than 10 months this year. He could skate on Friday.