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game recap

Flyers' Neuvirth makes 24 saves in win against Wild

Goalie robs Minnesota's Coyle in final seconds to preserve victory

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- "Unbelievable," "sick" and "disgusting" were just a few of the adjectives used to describe Michal Neuvirth's game-saving stop in the final seconds of the third period for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Minnesota Wild at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

Neuvirth made a spectacular lunging save on Charlie Coyle's sharp-angled shot with 2.6 seconds remaining to preserve the Flyers' 3-2 victory.

Coyle had an open look from the left side in the waning seconds and tried to shoot it into the top corner of the net. But Neuvirth dove across, and while laying on his right hip, he stretched to stop the puck with his stick. As it dropped near the goal line, he snagged it with his glove. Video review showed the puck never crossed the line.

"I knew I hit it with my stick but I wasn't sure if I had the stick behind the goal line," Neuvirth said. "I've made saves like that sometimes in practice but it was huge for us."

Video: MIN@PHI: Neuvirth makes an unbelievable save on Coyle

Said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol: "It was a [heck] of a save. ... Especially when you add the time and the way he was able to fight that puck off. It didn't look like the puck crossed the line, I guess, from the bench. Until you look at it on video, there's no way to tell for sure. It was a heck of a save in a great time in the game."

Neuvirth said he had a good feeling once he saw a second replay.

"On the first replay, I wasn't sure," he said. "But when they showed the different angle, I knew right away I made the save."

Some of his teammates weren't quite as confident.

"I was a little worried," defenseman Mark Streit said. "They checked it. But then on the big screen, you can tell it probably didn't cross the line. Huge relief for us."

The play made Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's goal early in the third period the game-winner. Sam Gagner and Streit scored for Philadelphia (27-22-11), and Neuvirth made 24 saves, including a lunging right-pad stop against Mikael Granlund with 5:03 remaining in the third and Minnesota on the power play.

Video: MIN@PHI: Streit wrists it past Dubnyk

But it was his final save that mattered most.

"It was unbelievable," Gagner said. "Just a disgusting save. It's one of those things that saved the game for us. Absolutely huge; big save by [Neuvirth]."

The win was the Flyers' third in their past 10 at home (3-3-4), and it came in the first of a six-game homestand that forward Jakub Voracek said Thursday morning will determine whether they make the Stanley Cup Playoffs; they're three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the postseason from the Eastern Conference.

"It's huge," Neuvirth said. "We talked about it before the game. We wanted to start good. It's a good win for our confidence. We've got to make sure we bring the same effort Saturday."

Thomas Vanek had a goal and an assist for Minnesota (27-24-10), which lost its second straight game after winning its first four under interim coach John Torchetti. Granlund scored, and Devan Dubnyk made 28 saves.

The loss ended the Wild's three-game road winning streak, their longest since they won six straight Feb. 20-March 14, 2015.

Video: MIN@PHI: Bellemare beats Dubnyk for go-ahead goal

Bellemare scored at 3:21 of the third to put the Flyers ahead to stay. Chris VandeVelde pulled the puck out of a scrum behind the Minnesota net and tried to stuff it inside the post. Dubnyk stopped him, but Bellemare, who was pushed to the ice by Minnesota's Ryan Carter, knocked in the rebound at 3:21 of the third for his fourth goal of the season and first in 32 games dating to Dec. 8.

"[Ryan White and VandeVelde] are working hard and [VandeVelde] made a nice move, and I'm trying to read where the puck is going to come and just dive for it and it goes in," Bellemare said.

Bellemare's goal was similar to the one by Gagner, who opened the scoring by getting to the net to bang in the rebound of a Brayden Schenn shot with 1:15 left in the first period.

"It's obviously a really tough league to score in, especially this time of year," Gagner said. "Defenses are tightening up. You have to find ways to get to the blue paint and find ways to score goals."

The Wild twice rallied from down a goal to tie it.

Video: MIN@PHI: Vanek tips it by Neuvirth on the power play

After Gagner's goal, Vanek redirected Jared Spurgeon's pass by Neuvirth for a power-play goal at 2:02 of the second.

Streit's power-play goal, scored off Spurgeon's leg at 5:46 of the second, put the Flyers ahead 2-1. But Granlund backhanded the rebound of a Vanek shot past Neuvirth at 13:16 of the second to tie it 2-2.

After Bellemare scored early in the third, the Wild remained confident, right down to Coyle's open look in the final seconds.

"That's a heck of a save," Coyle said. "That would've been a huge point. Another half-inch and that's a huge point for us."

Video: MIN@PHI: Gagner slips the puck past Dubnyk

The Wild don't have much time to dwell on the loss; they play at the Washington Capitals on Friday.

"We missed this game by a half an inch," Torchetti said. "We have to give another inch more. That's the bottom line. We lost this game and we have to move on to Washington."

Video: Neuvirth, Flyers drop Wild 3-2 in Philly

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