Ilya Bryzgalov had his strongest performance of the season tonight, as he stopped 34 saves to help the Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 1-0 at the Verizon Center. Eric Wellwood’s second goal of the season was all Bryzgalov needed for his third shutout of 2011-2012, as the Flyers won back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of January.
The game-winning goal, which came at the 7:51 mark of the second period, was a redirection from Wellwood in the slot off of a pass from Pavel Kubina at the point. The puck eluded Michal Neuvirth for his second goal in the NHL, as the effective line of Wellwood-Zac Rinaldo-Sean Couturier were rewarded for their play tonight.
With both Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros out of the line-up, Bryzgalov’s shutout couldn’t have come at a better time for the Flyers. His 34-save shutout is the most saves he has posted in any three of his blankings this season.
Although the defense did play a major role in the victory, a lot of the credit does deserve to go to Bryzgalov. The Flyers’ goalie, however, wanted to emphasis the team win.
“I think we played well,” he said. “Stop worrying about me guys. Seriously. I think it was an outstanding team effort. As you can see, guys sacrificed themselves blocking shots, battling in front of the net and around the boards. They did everything the coach asked and whatever we need for the win.”
Bryzgalov’s biggest save came in the second period. With the game still knotted at zero, a Scott Hartnell clear wound up in a Mike Knuble breakaway. Unfortunately for the former Flyer, his shot, just like the other 33 Washington threw at Bryzgalov tonight, couldn’t put the Caps on the scoreboard.
Peter Laviolette, who for a second straight game used his timeout perfectly, gave his goaltender praise following the win.
“Yeah, it seems like he’s really starting to feel comfortable,” said Laviolette. ”Tonight was the most comfortable.”
The other weakness of the Flyers as of late, penalty killing, was avoided tonight, as the club managed to not hand Washington a single man advantage the entire contest.
The only time a Flyer entered the sin bin was when Hartnell dropped the gloves with Troy Brouwer. After the former Chicago Blackhawk dumped Erik Gustafsson, Hartnell stood up for his teammate. The Broad Street Bully landed multiple punches before Brouwer tackled him to the ice.
The win is a sign of many positives for the Flyers. For one, it was a result of great team defense and goaltending. As Bryzgalov pointed out after the game, the team did many of the little things right, which included 15 blocked shots.
Another reason is the fact they played a hungry team. Yes, that hungry team is currently sitting outside of the playoff picture and didn’t score in their last contest either, but it’s also a team who was in front of their home crowd and featured Alex Ovechkin in their line-up.
The Flyers look for their third straight win Tuesday, as they host the Detroit Red Wings on a night where they will retire Mark Howe’s number.
Notes: The Flyers have won three straight games against the Caps in Washington…This is the Flyers’ first 1-0 win since they beat the Florida Panthers by the same score on December 30, 2007…This is the first time the Flyers have won back-to-back games since they Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on January 10 and the New York Islanders 3-2 on the 12th…Tonight was the third time all season the Flyers recorded a shutout. It’s the fifth time the Capitals were shut out…The win is the Flyers’ first one-goal game win in regulation since they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 on February 9th…The Capitals are on a 120:00 goalless drought…Ovechkin had a game-high seven shots on net…The Flyers improved to 2-1-0 against the Capitals and to 9-5-2 against the Southeast Division this season (FLA 2-0-0, WPG 1-2-1, WSH 2-1-0, TBL 1-1-1, CAR 3-1-0)…The Flyers improved to 36-21-7. They were 40-18-6 after 64 games last season.