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Neuvirth makes 28 saves, Flyers shut out Jets

by Patrick Williams /

WINNIPEG -- The Philadelphia Flyers could be facing some goaltending choices after Michal Neuvirth made 28 saves to shut out the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 at MTS Centre on Saturday.

With Flyers goalie Steve Mason recovering from an illness, Neuvirth made his third consecutive start and earned his League-leading third shutout. The Flyers had not allowed fewer than two goals in a game since Oct. 14 against the Dallas Stars.

"It has been a long [trip]," Neuvirth said. "I thought that we were getting better each game. I thought it was a great team effort. The guys did a good job for all 60 minutes, and that's the way we have to play on the road."

Neuvirth's .945 save percentage ties him with Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers for the League lead; his 1.81 goals-against average ranks fourth.

Coach Dave Hakstol was asked who will handle the goaltending when the Flyers play four of their next five games at home.

"We'll worry about evaluating all of that and thinking about all of those decisions a day or two down the road," Hakstol said.

"[Michal] was seeing the puck very well. He did a good job for his teammates, and his teammates did a good job in front of him. He gave us a chance to win and to get points in each of the games that he played."

Philadelphia ended six-game losing streak (0-4-2) and completed a 1-3-1 road trip.

The Flyers (5-6-3) scored two power-play goals; they ranked 29th in the NHL entering the game and were 0-for-16 through their past seven games. They had five power-play chances, their second-most in a game, and took advantage.

Brayden Schenn had a first-period power-play goal for Philadelphia before Wayne Simmonds scored one in the third period. Matt Read scored an empty-net goal with 1:35 remaining, and Claude Giroux had two assists.

Philadelphia had allowed 34.3 shots per game and an average of 37.3 in the first four games of the road trip. Winnipeg's 28 shots were the fewest Philadelphia allowed in a game this season.

"Towards the end [of the game], I had a lot more energy than [previous] games," Neuvirth said.

Winnipeg (8-5-2) returned home after a 2-1-1 road trip for its one game here in a nine-game stretch. The Jets begin a four-game Central Division road trip next week; 10 of the Jets' 14 games in November are on the road.

The Jets, who started the game sixth in the NHL averaging 3.0 goals per game, were shut out for the first time. Ondrej Pavelec made 19 saves.

Winnipeg forward Alexander Burmistrov took an offensive-zone tripping penalty that helped set up Philadelphia's first goal 36 seconds later. Schenn stationed himself in the left circle, where he one-timed his fifth goal past Pavelec at 5:54 to end a five-game drought.

Simmonds made it 2-0 with 9:44 left in the game when he jabbed a rebound past Pavelec for his second goal of the season. That ended a seven-game drought.

"We were getting good movement (on the power play in previous games)," Simmonds said. "We were trying to not get discouraged. It came together [Saturday]. I thought we had even better movement than in the past. We were getting shots through. We were getting shots from all angles."

Hakstol said he had a feeling that the power play would eventually come back to life.

"We kind of sensed it [recently] that it was coming or it felt like it was coming," Hakstol said. "Those guys, they're working, they're pushing. We know that we need our power play to contribute to wins, and it contributed as well as every other part of our game."

Jets coach Paul Maurice focused more on his players' lack of execution than Neuvirth or the Philadelphia power play.

"It's hard to tell how hot [Neuvirth] was," Maurice said. "We just didn't execute offensively.

"What we did with the puck, we just weren't really sharp with it. We had a hard time handling it, getting it off. We put a lot [of shots] into his glove early. We just couldn't get a lot of pucks to the net."

Winnipeg has power-play issues of its own and went 0-for-5 against a Philadelphia penalty kill that ranked 27th on the road. The Jets have not scored in their past 13 power-play opportunities.

"We couldn't really generate anything on the power play, and that kind of killed the momentum for us," forward Mathieu Perreault said. "We're definitely going to have to find something better on the power play."

Philadelphia hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

"We'll enjoy this one, and then we'll turn the page," Schenn said. "It's a hectic schedule. The road trip didn't go as planned, but we got three of the last four points, and hopefully it's something we can build off of heading home here."

Winnipeg starts its next road trip Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild in its first divisional road game.

"It's huge," Jets forward Drew Stafford said. "You look at our division and how tight it is, these games are huge points. You have to take advantage.

"If you can try to gain ground outside of the [Western Conference] that helps. But if you can get the job done within your division, that's the most important part. We're going to take [Sunday] to regroup and get ready for a big road trip."

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