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Bryzgalov does it again in Flyers' 1-0 win

by Neil Acharya
TORONTO -- The capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre was wondering which goalie would bend first Saturday night.

In the end, Jonas Gustavsson allowed the lone goal in shootout against Claude Giroux as the Philadelphia Flyers improved to 5-0 in March with a 1-0 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Giroux kept the puck on his forehand and looked like he was going to go glove side on Gustavsson, but faked the shot and fooled the Leafs' goaltender, pulling the puck back and going top shelf in a highlight-reel goal.

"It's a move I have been practicing. I thought it was a good opportunity to try it," Giroux said. "It's the kind of move, if you miss it, you look a little bizarre."

Toronto has now dropped three straight games. Combined with the Capitals' victory earlier in the day in Boston, the Leafs are now six points back and are in full desperation mode to grasp the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel all failed to beat Ilya Bryzgalov in the shootout. 

Kessel, who leads his club with 34 goals, took a bank pass of the boards and broke in alone at 1:40 of the extra session but came away with nothing to show for his efforts -- the same story for all the Maple Leafs' shooters throughout the night.

Bryzgalov stopped 29 shots for his second consecutive shutout and fifth of the season. He has not allowed a goal since the 8:47 mark of the third period against Detroit on Tuesday.

"Sometimes you gotta win 1-0, sometimes you can win 5-1 or 7-6 … it depends, (but) a win is a win," said Bryzgalov, who has started 11 straight games in goal.

Early in the third period, Clarke MacArthur thought he may have had the opening goal of the game, but he put Grabovski's rebound off the post from close range.

Bryzgalov is now 7-2-0 in his last nine starts and has three shutouts this month alone. Despite facing less than 30 shots, he thwarted numerous scoring opportunities from Toronto throughout the game.

"Their chances were a lot more than ours and better than ours and he made some big saves at the right times," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "He's been sharp for a while, so tonight was no different."

Meanwhile, Gustavsson started in his fifth straight game for the Maple Leafs and turned aside 27 shots for his fourth shutout of the season and got better as the game went on.

Jaromir Jagr had a glorious opportunity three minutes into the third on a Toronto turnover, but Gustavsson poke-checked the puck away from him. He stoned Jagr again with less than three minutes remaining on a pad save and also turned away Nicklas Grossmann's point shot with Scott Hartnell deep in his crease.

Gustavsson didn't have much of a test in the first and made his first big save of the night early in the second, getting his right pad on Erik Gustafsson's point shot through traffic. Late in the period, he sprawled out to deny Maxime Talbot at the top of the crease.

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle indicated earlier in the day that his plan of attack against the feisty Flyers was to draw penalties and then attack with speed. Through two periods, Toronto was able -- at least in part -- to achieve what they had sought to do, going to the power play three times while not giving up a man-advantage.

However, each time his team was shorthanded, Bryzgalov gave his club the goaltending they needed, shutting the five-hole on Matt Frattin and John-Michael Liles on successive power plays in the latter half of the second period to keep the game scoreless.

"For Bryz to have our back like that, he is playing his best hockey this year and we are trying to help him. He is making all the big saves for us and he has got his confidence back," Giroux said. "It's a lot of fun to see him dominate games like that."

Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek, who is seeing an increased role under his new coach,  felt the Leafs'  power play improved as the game went on, but couldn't get the break it needed.

"I think we had a couple more chances than they did," Komisarek said. "We'd like to win that special teams battle at the end of the night. Once our power-play guys got established in the zone, I thought they were creating things. This time of year, I think everyone is relied on to find a way to break through with special teams."

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