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Flyers spoil party by beating Bruins 2-1

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- The new-look Philadelphia Flyers shook off any chemistry problems and perfectly played the role of party crashers Thursday night at TD Garden.

It helped that their most high-profile addition was on top of his game.

Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves, including 17 on 17 shots over the last two periods, as the Flyers beat the Bruins 2-1 on the night Boston raised its 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner.

"Through the course of the game, even after the first two periods, they did not have a lot of shots on net. A lot of the ones they did have we quality chances," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "The chances were relatively close after two periods, but he was equal. He kept himself in the game. In the second period it seemed like we generated more zone time and more shots on net. The ones that slipped through us were some mistakes that we made.  But he was able to bail us out.  He played really strong.

Claude Giroux and another newcomer, Jakub Voracek, scored the Flyers' goals 47 seconds apart in the final minute of the first period. Led by Bryzgalov and a team defense that blocked 17 shots, the Flyers killed off four of five Boston power plays, including two entire ones and part of a third in the last period.

"Our penalty kill was [effective], you've got to sacrifice a lot. Blocking shots, battling hard in front, pick up rebounds, and actually we did everything today and executed well," said Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year deal with the Flyers this summer. "I think that's a big reason why we won the game tonight."

The Flyers had to wait around for 40 minutes in the dressing room after warmups while the Bruins enjoyed their ceremony, which included a passing of the Stanley Cup from player to player, a few brief speeches and then the banner raising. The Flyers were among the teams eliminated by the Bruins (in four straight in the second round), so they might have had some extra incentive to make the night a little less of a Boston celebration.

"Coming to a game here, especially the first game of the season when they are raising the banner, it's a slap in the face and its motivation for a little payback even though it's the first game of the season," Giroux said. "It's good for our ego and everybody was ready to go tonight."

The Bruins seemed more ready to go in the early going -- and they got on the scoreboard first 9:42 into the game. On their first power play of the night, Brad Marchand took a Tyler Seguin blue line-to-blue line pass to the net and beat Bryzgalov with a forehand against the grain as he crossed the slot.

From there, however, the Flyers dictated play until the third period. Giroux scored on the rush on a Flyers power play with 50 seconds remaining before intermission. Voracek then sent Philadelphia to the dressing room with the lead as he buried a spinning shot past Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (27 saves) with just three seconds remaining.

"I think those two goals kind of hurt us and put us back on our heels," center Patrice Bergeron said. "The first period, most of it was ours. At the end, I thought we generated a lot of chances and we were playing well, but those two goals hurt us and we didn't find a way to come back."

A comeback might've been more in the offing had the Bruins cashed in on their power plays, a deficiency that dates back to last season when Boston finished in the bottom half of the league in the regular season and was dreadful for three rounds of playoffs before coming alive in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Bruins failed on their final four power plays after scoring on their first.

"I guess we wished to have a better result, but I think some of it mirrored our game," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "As much as we weren't quite in sync, we made some plays, we had some opportunities, but we didn't bury them. A couple of times, we had some good plays, good decision-making, but the one-timers just kind of rolled off the stick. Overall, I think our guys had the right attitude going into the game. I don't think the rest followed. It was just one of those nights were you've just really got to understand the situation and try to get yourself better and hopefully focused in the proper way for next game."

While the Bruins will now completely forget about last season and look forward to better days ahead, the Flyers are off on the right foot with their new-look squad, which includes eight players who weren't in orange and black last season.

"It's tough to come in when there is that much energy in the building for the opposition," Laviolette said. "I thought our guys battled through that and they did a good job. Parts of the game looked really good and there were parts we can look to improve on. It's always easier to show things to improve on after you win. We've got lots of things we can look at. I've said from the beginning, both on the ice and off the ice, we've got work to do -- and we're going to continue to do that."
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