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Bryz gets third straight shutout in win over Devils

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- Ilya Bryzgalov doesn't want to discuss anything about himself or his hot streak. His performance on the ice is saying everything that needs to be said.

Bryzgalov stopped 17 shots on Tuesday night for his third straight shutout as the Philadelphia Flyers beat New Jersey 3-0 at the Wells Fargo Center. After sitting out Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center, Bryzgalov outplayed Martin Brodeur, who made 26 saves as the Devils saw their four-game win streak come to an end.

"We didn't do enough to challenge him," said Devils captain Zach Parise, who was held to one shot. "We made it pretty easy for him; I think he saw a lot of the shots. We weren't able to get rebounds. I think that's a credit to the way they play, too ... they didn't give us much."

Bryzgalov joined the Flyers after signing a nine-year contract last summer. After struggling for much of the first two-thirds of the season, his hot streak has seen him tie his season best with six straight wins. He has shutouts in four of his last five starts.

Bryzgalov has made a recent habit of refusing to talk about himself, but those around him continue to be impressed.

"It's not easy to come from a different team with totally different expectations," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "You know, you talk about Phoenix media, there's not much pressure. You come here to Philly and it's a lot more media, a lot more pressure and it takes time. It was an adjustment time for him, I'm sure. He looks more happy now, more comfortable, he's playing with a lot of confidence."

Bryzgalov is first Flyers goalie with three straight shutouts since John Vanbiesbrouck, who did it Oct. 20-24, 1999. Bryzgalov also extended his shutout streak to 196:13, including the final 11:13 of last Tuesday's win against the Detroit Red Wings. It's the third-longest such streak in team history, trailing Vanbiesbrouck's 227:40 set Oct. 17-26, 1999.

"With everything he's had to go through this year, it has to be something special for him finally, feeling like he's playing with a lot of confidence," said center Danny Briere, whose empty-netter snapped a 23-game goal drought. "There was a point-blank shot in the third period and it looked like nothing. He went down, took the blocker out, deflected the puck in the corner.

"To us on the bench, this is a huge play, it's a huge chance for them, and you're sitting there and see Bryz make a casual save like that, maybe that wasn't even a good chance. The other team is not able to create any more momentum from this. It's been fun. He makes all of us look better playing that way. It's fun for us, as well."

The team certainly played well in front of him, limiting the Devils to just nine shots in the final two periods and blocking 15 shots.

"I think we had an unbelievable game tonight," Bryzgalov said. "Start to finish, all 60 minutes."

Perhaps the best news for the Flyers was the goal by Briere.

Hours after Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said: "I got a lot of confidence in Danny. He's going to have a big game tonight," Briere scored his first goal since Jan. 7 and added an assist. Jakub Voracek also had a goal and an assist and Sean Couturier added a goal as the Flyers claimed sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference and moved within two points of fourth-place Pittsburgh.

Briere had two shots, a plus-2 rating and won three of four faceoffs in the game. Getting the goal, however, lifted a big weight off his shoulders. It came after a golden chance in the second, when he had an open net off a back-door feed from Voracek, but the puck caught a rut and hopped over his stick.

With more than five minutes left in the third period and the Devils down two goals, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer elected to pull Brodeur for an extra attacker. The plan backfired when Voracek carried into the New Jersey zone and fed Briere. Marek Zidlicky slid to block Briere's first attempt, but Briere got to the loose puck and scored his 14th of the season with 4:49 remaining.

"You could tell he was pretty happy," Voracek said of Briere. "With this guy it's only a matter of time. He can get on a hot streak and he can score three in a row."
DeBoer said he thought getting Brodeur out that early was the only way his team could generate any offense.

"We had nothing going and we were down by two," he said. "There was an opportunity to create a power play and I like our chances scoring 5-on-4 better than I do with 6-on-5 with two minutes left to go. It is not a unique decision."

Briere admitted his confidence had been lacking as he suffered through the second-longest goal drought of his career. He credited a talk with Laviolette on Monday for putting him in a good place mentally.

"Peter and I had a pretty good talk yesterday," said Briere. "He gave me a lot of confidence with the talk we had. I have to give him a lot of credit for the way he made me feel coming into tonight's game."

Neither player nor coach would give specifics on the conversation, but Laviolette said he was very pleased with the way Briere played.

"He played a heck of a hockey game," Laviolette said. "He was very competitive. I think everybody has a lot a lot of confidence in Danny. ... He's knows he's capable of great things. Tonight I thought he had a real strong game, thought he was really good, he was really competitive."

The goal-scoring drought also ended for another member of the Briere household. Couturier -- who has lived with Briere for most of the season -- scored just his second goal in the last 23 games. Couturier beat fellow rookie Adam Henrique on a faceoff to the left of the Devils' net. He won the puck back to Braydon Coburn, who took a shot that caromed off the end boards and into the crease. Brodeur couldn't corral the puck, and Couturier was able to poke it past him for his 12th of the season.

Voracek, back after a three-game absence due to a concussion suffered last Tuesday against the Red Wings, made it 2-0 when he dug a Briere pass of his skates and beat Brodeur from in front for his 12th of the season at 2:14 of the third.

DeBoer said his team's compete level wasn't where it needed to be, but that there's no time to dwell on it.

"I think you have to let it go," he said. "We got out-competed in small areas of rink tonight that we are usually very good at. It doesn't happen very often and we just have to get our game back and keep moving forward."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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