Skip to main content


Bryzgalov beats old team as Flyers top Phoenix 4-2

by Jerry Brown /
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ilya Bryzgalov said he didn't ask to play back-to-back nights for the first time all season because his two former teams provided the opposition for his current club, the Philadelphia Flyers. He said it just worked out that way. No big deal.

But in the next breath, he admitted that "part of my soul is here" -- and completing an Anaheim-Phoenix sweep with a 4-2 win over the Coyotes at Arena on Saturday night was the perfect way to wrap up his walk down memory lane.

Bryzgalov's teammates scored all four of their goals in the first 18:29 and he did the rest with 36 saves as the Flyers moved to 9-3-1 on the road this season and completed a home-and-home sweep of the Coyotes.

"I was walking in the building … I can't explain what I felt, but it's something," said Bryzgalov, whose rights were traded to the Flyers before he signed a nine-year contract during the summer. "I played here 3 1/2 half years, winning lots of game, losing lots of game. Part of my soul is here."

Bryzgalov led the Coyotes to back-to-back playoff appearances after an eight-year drought, but poor playoff performances and comments from teammates suggesting he was a polarizing force in the dressing room led to a smattering of boos from the crowd when his name was announced and when he led his team onto the ice. It apparently wasn't loud enough for him to hear.

"They not boo me," he said.  I would have been surprised if they boo me, because I don't think I deserve it."

The rest of the boos were reserved for the Coyotes. Phoenix had allowed a League-low 10 goals in the first period of their first 24 games before the Flyers scored twice in the first six minutes and twice more 2:16 apart. Matt Read, one of seven Flyers rookies in the lineup, had the first goal thanks to a wild ricochet off the boards and added two assists as the Flyers put the game away early.

"The first goal is a bad bounce off the glass right to (Read)," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We got back on our heels. We didn't respond the way we wanted and dug ourselves a bug hole."

The Coyotes lost a 2-1 heartbreaker in Philadelphia 16 days ago when Read scored with 18.6 seconds left in regulation. The rematch was even more painful as Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, Bryzgalov's replacement, who came into the game with a 2.03 goals-against average, was pulled for the first time in 21 starts at the first intermission. Philadelphia sandwiched power-play goals by Read and Scott Hartnell around even-strength tallies by Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux.

The Flyers had been struggling in the power play, but clicked three times in a 4-3 overtime win over the Ducks Friday before adding another pair Saturday. They now have 24 power-play goals this season -- 13 more than the Coyotes, who have just one in their last 35 chances after going 0-for-4 against the Flyers

"It's just such a big part of the NHL these days; the special teams," Hartnell said. "When our penalty kill is stopping their top guys and our top guys are scoring goals, it's a deadly combination. It's been a good thing for us thus far."

Ray Whitney's second-period goal, the 350th of his NHL career, was the only bright spot for Phoenix, which had been 8-1-1 following a loss this season but was never in this one. Mikkel Boedker added one on the final minute for Phoenix, now a pedestrian 6-5-2 on home ice this season.

The Flyers had been outscored 11-2 in the first period of their last six games, but that changed quickly. With teammate Raffi Torres in the penalty box for an illegal hit to the head of Sean Couturier, Phoenix defenseman Adrian Aucoin attempt to clear the zone by winding the puck around the boards. But the puck took a crazy hop off the glass and slid right to Read all alone in the slot for an easy shot past Smith.

Just 2:22 later the Flyers doubled the lead with another unconventional goal. Read fed the trailing Briere on a 3-on-2 rush. Smith made the save on Briere, but the puck popped in the air and Simmonds was at the left post to bat it out of midair and in at 6:01.

The Flyers capped the period with another flourish. Giroux had his stick cocked for several seconds before blasting a one-timer off a Kimmo Timonen past for his 15th goal at 16:13. It was Giroux's 32nd point, tying him with Toronto's Phil Kessel for the NHL lead.

Just 2:16 later, with Boyd Gordon serving a high-sticking penalty, Hartnell set up just outside the crease and converted Briere's feed for his 11th goal and the Coyotes were staring up at a four-goal hole.

"When you're down 4-0, there's not a lot you need to save it for," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "As a group we have to win more battles around their net and around our net."

Whitney gave the Coyotes some life by firing a Radim Vrbata setup between Bryzgalov's pads at 7:15 of the second. The Coyotes had other prime scoring chances -- Rostislav Klesla had an open net in the second period and Daymond Langkow missed another one over the top of the crossbar in the third. Boedker tipped home a Keith Yandle shot with 41 seconds left – only the third goal Bryzgalov allowed in two games against the Coyotes.

"He was really sharp," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "There wasn't a lot for him to do in the first period, but when the score was in our favor we got a little sloppy and he had to make some big saves."
View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.