Matt Read scored with just 18.6 seconds left in regulation to help Ilya Bryzgalov beat his former team as the Flyers edged the Coyotes 2-1.
Bryzgalov limited his former team to a single goal on 31 shots, while Read registered his second game-winning score within the last three games. Claude Giroux provided his 12th assist of the season with the primary helper on James van Riemsdyk’s tally which opened the scoring in the second period, which gives him the team lead in that category.
Mikkel Boedker lit the lamp early in the third, and Mike Smith stopped 40 Flyers shots, but it was not enough to lead Phoenix to victory.
The first period may have not produced anything on the scoreboard, but it did feature a lot of scoring opportunities. The Coyotes outshot the Flyers 16-12 in the opening twenty minutes, but the Flyers provided stronger scoring chances on special teams. Phoenix only produced three while Danny Briere was in the box for his high-sticking double minor, while the Flyers managed to get four shots on Smith while Raffi Torres sat in the sin bin for holding the stick.
In addition to the offensive chances in the first period, both teams experienced some physical damage to key players.
For the Flyers, Jaromir Jagr left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period and didn’t return, while Max Talbot took a puck to the face resulting in some missed time. He returned to the bench before the first period ended. For Phoenix, Rostislav Klesla was on the receiving end of Briere’s high stick, which required some stitching to stop the bleeding.
Over 12 minutes into the second period, the Flyers were finally able to break the scoreless tie. Looking to breakout of the defensive zone, Giroux tapped the puck to van Riemsdyk at Philly’s own blue line. Picking up the puck with his backhand, JVR was able to fly down the right wing and enter the offensive zone causing a 2-on-1 with Kimmo Timonen. Using Timonen as a decoy, JVR switched the puck between his forehand and backhand a couple times before snapping off a wrister that zipped by Smith’s glove and into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
The Flyers almost handed their lead right back to the Coyotes, as Ray Whitney intercepted a pass between the Flyers’ defenders at his own blue line. Thankfully, Bryzgalov halted Whitney’s open chance with a florid glove stop to keep the Flyers’ lead intact.
Early in the third period, the visitors found a way to tie the game. As the Coyotes hacked away at the loose puck on the side of the net to Bryzgalov’s left, the goaltender pulled his leg pad away from the post for a brief moment allowing Boedker to bank it off his old teammate and into the net 3:38 into the third period.
As time was winding down in a game which provided more yawns than cheers, Read provided the late-game heroics to give the Flyers the regulation win.
Jakub Voracek was able to gain possession of the puck along the boards next to the faceoff circle to Smith’s right, after Derek Morris moved away from him to prevent being called for a penalty, and threw it towards the net. The shot hit Smith’s leg pad causing the former Lightning goaltender to drop to the ice and provide a rebound for Talbot, who slid it to Read as he charged towards the slot.
The rookie used his quick reflexes to tap the puck home at the left post and punctuated the score with a celebration in the right circle.
The Coyotes called a timeout and pulled Smith for the final seconds of regulation, but they couldn’t force extra time.
Earlier today, Morris and Adrian Aucoin called out Bryzgalov not only as a goalie, but as a person. After Bryzgalov’s performance tonight, both players were forced to eat their words.
Yes, the only goal he let in tonight was a soft one, but Bryzgalov made key saves late and stoned Whitney on a crucial breakaway during the second period. The two bitter Yotes most likely made their comments in an attempt to distract their former teammate, but now they just look idiotic for making the comments.
Notes: The Flyers have an eight-game point streak (6-0-2)…This is the Flyers’ first win against the Coyotes in regulation since their 3-2 win on December 5, 2003 (1-4-0 since then)…Tonight’s loss ends Phoenix’s four-game point streak (3-0-1)…In his 300th NHL game, Keith Yandle had no points and was a minus-1 in 24:43 ice-time…This is Smith’s first loss to the Flyers since his 5-2 setback on December 23, 2009 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning…The Coyotes put up more shots in the first period of tonight’s game (16 shots) than the Flyers put up against the Lightning last Wednesday (15 total shots)…This is the first time the Coyotes didn’t hold a lead after the first period since their 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on November 5.