A horrendous middle stanza and a strong performance from Devan Dubnyk helped the Edmonton Oilers beat the visiting Flyers by a score of 2-0 tonight. Taylor Hall’s power-play goal only minutes into the second period was enough for an Edmonton victory, as the Flyers ran into a second straight amazing goalie performance from an unexpected source.
In the first and third periods, the Flyers outshot the Oilers 29-15. In the second period, however, the Oilers earned a 15-6 shot advantage and potted the game’s only goals. The Flyers had a strong start and a strong finish, but there inexplicable lull for the middle 20 minutes cost them a pair of crucial points on the road.
“The assessment of the second period is accurate, it’s disgraceful,” said Peter Laviolette after the game. “You’d like to think this serves as a wake-up call because we’re in a playoff race. Tonight is unacceptable.”
Dubnyk, who didn’t necessarily make any extraordinary saves, stopped every shot the Flyers threw at him. Good positioning and his ability to see shots through traffic helped the Oilers’ backup goaltender to his first shutout of the season.
“He made some key saves for them and we had a lot of chances,” stated Claude Giroux. “He was the best player on the ice.”
The performance came just two nights after Ondrej Pavelec posted a 50-save overtime loss against the Flyers.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed four goals two nights ago with a shaky performance in Winnipeg, had one of his better performances of the season tonight. In addition to a save on a penalty shot in the third period, Bryzgalov made several desperation saves throughout the contest.
“We got a big effort from Bryz,” Briere said. “He kept us in the game until the end, we just couldn’t get one.”
The first goal against Bryzgalov was a combination of minute luck, with a bounce off the end boards, and ridiculous accuracy from Hall, who put home a difficult-angle shot with little room to work with.
As for the game, the Flyers enjoyed the game’s first power play after the teams exchanged a few possessions. Shawn Horcoff hooked Wayne Simmonds in the neutral zone for Philly’s man advantage, which they failed to convert on despite throwing four shots at Dubnyk.
Less than four minutes later, Jody Shelley got involved with Darcy Hordichuk in the Oilers’ zone for a spirited bout that pumped up the Edmonton crowd. Although Hordichuk started to swing away before Shelley dropped his gloves, Philly’s heavyweight dominated the fight early and finished with a forceful take down of the former Vancouver Canuck.
The fight may have energized both teams, but it was the Flyers who seemed to benefit most from the scrap. With several shots that reached the net through traffic and cross-ice passes that just missed for strong scoring chances, the Flyers had provided most of the offense in the first 20 minutes.
Although Edmonton spent a good chunk of the opening period in their own zone, an Ales Hemsky shot nearly gave the Oilers a 1-0 advantage with about two minutes left in the first. Off a good pass from Hall behind the Flyers’ cage, Hemsky rifled a shot from the middle of the circles. Fortunately for Philly, Bryzgalov was able move across the crease fast enough to stop the chance to keep the game scoreless.
After Shelley exchanged pleasantries with Corey Potter behind Bryzgalov’s net, the first period ended. The Flyers had a 14-9 shot advantage and a 7-3 advantage in scoring chances.
Early in the second period, a Pavel Kubina penalty led to a Hall power-play goal for a 1-0 Oilers’ lead.
The Oilers trapped the Flyers in their own zone for a long duration of time before Kubina was nailed for a holding minor. Hall, who was denied earlier in the power play by a great cross-crease leg-save by Bryzgalov, was the benefactor of a bounce off the end boards via a Ryan Whitney slap shot from the point. Placing a shot between the near post and the sprawling Bryzgalov, Hall registered his 22nd goal of the season 3:26 into the middle stanza.
Less than five minutes later, and after numerous odd-man rushes for the Flyers, it was Jordan Eberle who scored the game’s next goal to extend the Oilers’ lead to two thanks to a turnover in the Flyers’ zone.
Braydon Coburn tried to pass the puck along the boards to Danny Briere, but the puck bounced towards open ice thanks to a diving effort from Eberle. Jumping on the puck, Eberle circled to the slot and released a wrister towards Bryzgalov. The puck leaked through Bryzgalov and over the goal line before the Russian netminder looked towards the sky, as Eberle’s 27th goal of the year increased Edmonton’s lead in a game where the Flyers had most of the offensive chances.
In the final few minutes of the middle period, the Flyers were on the positive side of a couple bad calls by the officials. Following an icing call against the Oilers where Hall obviously beat out Coburn, Nicklas Grossman broke Magnus Paajarvi’s stick with a slash that the refs decided wasn’t worthy of a minor penalty. Seconds after Grossman’s slash, Scott Hartnell was sent to the box for kneeing Paajarvi, an act of frustration after a confrontational shift for the Flyers’ forward.
Despite an aggressive power play from Edmonton, which included a scrum in the crease where Max Talbot jumped on top of Sam Gagner, the Flyers escaped the end of the second period with only a two-goal deficit and 24 seconds left on Hartnell’s minor.
After an authoritative first period, the Flyers were manhandled in the middle stanza. More importantly, the Oilers, unlike the Flyers in the first period, took advantage of their scoring chances and grabbed a pair of goals.
The third period mimicked that of the opening period, as the Flyers poured the shots on Dubnyk, but couldn’t register a single goal. Philly possessed the puck often throughout the period, but none of their scoring chances truly threatened Dubnyk’s shutout bid.
Hall, minutes after coincidental unsportsmanlike minors were dealt to Hartnell and Whitney, gave Philly the first power-play chance of the period due to a slashing minor with 3:33 left in the game. Not only did the Flyers not convert on their third power play of the night, Bryzgalov needed to bail out his team after a hooking call went against Kimmo Timonen.
Timonen addressed a Horcoff shorthanded breakaway by hooking Edmonton’s forward to hand the Oilers a chance for a three-goal lead.
Bryzgalov, who is notorious for his poor shootout play this season, came up with a huge save on a backhanded five-hole attempt from Horcoff to keep the Flyers’ slim chances of a comeback alive.
Following the penalty shot, the Flyers, who pulled Bryzgalov for a sixth skater, couldn’t muster a single goal against Edmonton’s backup goaltender to suffer a 2-0 loss on the road.
The Orange and Black hope their game against the Calgary Flames on Saturday yields a better result than tonight’s outcome.
Notes:The Flyers have lost six out of their last seven against the Oilers…This is the fourth time this season the Flyers were shut out. It’s the third shutout of the season for the Oilers…The Flyers have been shut out in their last two trips to Rexall Place. In their last game in Edmonton, on February 3, 2010, Jeff Deslauriers had a 33-save shutout and former Flyer Ryan Potulny netted the lone goal in a 1-0 Oilers’ win…Briere won three of his 15 faceoffs…Shelley’s first period fight against Hordichuk was his 171st in the NHL making him the active leader in this category…Sean Couturier missed the game (lower body injury). His replacement, Eric Wellwood, had one shot in 9:37 TOI…Zac Rinaldo and Andreas Lilja were also scratched from tonight’s game. Lilja has only played in one (2/16 against the Buffalo Sabres) of the Flyers’ last nine games…Both Simmonds and Jakub Voracek played in their 300th NHL game tonight…Horcoff’s penalty shot in the third period was his first in the NHL…Dubnyk’s shutout was his third in his NHL career…Philly dropped to 2-1-1 against the Northwest Division (VAN 1-0-0, CGY 0-0-0, COL 0-0-1, MIN 1-0-0, EDM 0-1-0), and to 9-4-2 against the Western Conference this season…The Flyers dropped to 33-20-7. They were 39-15-6 after 60 games last season.