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Bryzgalov makes 37 saves in Flyers' 3-2 win

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- On a night where the Philadelphia Flyers celebrated one of the best players in their history, the best player on the current team led them to a 3-2 victory Tuesday against the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
All-Star center Claude Giroux -- suffering from a sore left hand that prevented him from taking faceoffs -- scored a goal and set up another as the Flyers won their third straight and fourth in the last five games.
Giroux also took a team-high five shots on net and tied for the team lead with three blocked shots.
"We didn't even know if he was going to play before the game," said Danny Briere. "To see him come out like that, that was huge. … He was a leader tonight."
The win streak is the Flyers' longest since they won seven straight from Dec. 2-15. It's also their seventh straight regular-season win against the Red Wings in Philadelphia, a streak that dates to Jan. 25, 1997.
Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen scored for the Red Wings, who were missing six regulars from their lineup. Goalie Joey MacDonald, starting in place of the injured Jimmy Howard, made 20 saves.
The Wings lost their second straight and slipped two points behind St. Louis in the Central Division race.
Prior to the game, the Flyers honored Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe by retiring his No. 2 jersey. Howe spent 10 years with the Flyers, and currently works as director of pro scouting for the Red Wings.
Jakub Voracek and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Flyers, and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had another outstanding effort, stopping 37 of 39 shots.
The win was Bryzgalov's third straight, and he had to be at his best in the final 40 minutes, as the Red Wings outshot the Flyers 37-14, including a 21-6 margin in the third period.
In seven games since being pulled from a start against Pittsburgh on Feb. 18, Bryzgalov is 5-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
"Bryz has been great and he's playing awesome and we need him to keep playing that way," said Briere. "You look at the work he's done lately, he's been great. If he keeps playing that way, we're going to be in good shape. It's great to see. When he plays that way, he makes us all look better."
He was at his best in the last minute especially, as the Wings made their final push. He slid out to make an outstanding stop on a Valtteri Filppula wrister from in close with 56.8 seconds left, and in all stopped four shots in the final minute.
"Bryz had to be really solid for them tonight," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "We gave ourselves every opportunity and really pushed it. We had a glorious opportunity right at the end and … Bryz was up to the challenge tonight."
Bryzgalov deflected the credit to a defense group that for the second straight game was missing key parts in Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, both of whom are out indefinitely with lower-body injuries.
"We battled hard," said Bryzgalov. "The team was unbelievable, blocking shots, winning battles in front of the net. Especially with two players down by injury. Guys just stepped up and get some more minutes on the ice and I think they played every well."
Among those players was Giroux, who led the team's forwards with 19:53 of ice time.
"He's our leader," said Talbot. "He plays with energy, he competes, and when you see a guy like that, he's a little banged up right now and he goes and plays his heart out, you want to go on the ice and do the same thing. Great effort by him."
That effort started late in the first period, when he knocked down Filppula behind the Flyers net to cause a turnover, then picked up the puck at full speed in the neutral zone, broke in alone on MacDonald and scored with 1:49 left in first to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Then, with the Flyers shorthanded with 5:50 left in the second, he tipped an Ian White pass to center ice, beat White and Niklas Kronwall down the ice and fired a wrist shot from the low slot that MacDonald stopped, but Talbot, trailing the play, scored on the rebound for what became the game-winner.
"I thought Claude was good," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "He had a really spirited game. He was skating hard, he was really competitive in 1-on-1 battles.  He was, I think, a real factor in the game just by his competitiveness.  And obviously he had the points to help out and the big goal, but he was just a real competitive player tonight."
The night wasn't all good for the Flyers, who lost Voracek and Jaromir Jagr in the second period.
Voracek was knocked out of the game after a huge hit by Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall at 12:23 of the second. Voracek had his head down looking for the puck in his end and never saw Kronwall coming. Replays showed Kronwall's shoulder connecting with Voracek's face. The Flyers' forward remained down on the ice for a few moments, but was able to skate off on his own. He did not return to the game, and after the game the Flyers said he needed stitches for cuts around his mouth, and he would be evaluated further Wednesday.
"It was a tough hit," said Laviolette. "He took it right in the head.  It was frustrating because he's having a terrific year, and he's a terrific player for us and it's substantial when you're battling through a lot of injuries and you're dealing with it and you take a hit like that. It's tough and you hope he's all right and you hope he bounces back quick."
Kronwall, who was not assessed a penalty for the hit, said he felt it was a clean check.
"The way I felt about it at the time was that he was coming up along the boards and I took a strike forward," he said.
Jagr departed late in the second due to a hip injury. He's missed time twice previously this season due to lower-body issues.
The Wings know all about injuries. Among the players missing from their lineup Tuesday were All-Star center Pavel Datsyuk, top-line forward Todd Bertuzzi and future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.
It seemed to affect the Wings most early, as they were held to just two shots in the first period and went 18 minutes between shots between midway through the first and early in the second period.
However, they rebounded nicely to dominate the Flyers in the second and third period, but again their power play let them down. The Wings were 0-for-4 against the Flyers, and now are 3-for-34 in their last nine games.
"Our power play let us down big time," said Babcock. "I thought our power play was disorganized and not good enough. So we have to fix that. I know we have some players not available, but our power play, with the skill we have, we have to do a better job than that. So we have to get more organized."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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