Flyers defeat Devils, 4-1

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 30 saves for the Flyers, takes a shot from Devils winger Zach Parise during the second period.
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 30 saves for the Flyers, takes a shot from Devils winger Zach Parise during the second period. (MEL EVANS / Associated Press)
Posted: January 22, 2012

NEWARK, N.J. - Maybe it's the lighting. Maybe it's the atmosphere. Maybe it's playing against fellow Russian Ilya Kovalchuk.

Whatever the reason, there's something about playing in the Prudential Center that has brought out the best in Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov this season.

Bryzgalov was outstanding, and all-star snub Scott Hartnell scored a pair of power-play goals as the Flyers defeated the New Jersey Devils, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon.

In two games against the Devils in Newark this season, Bryzgalov has allowed one goal, total. He recorded his only shutout this season in New Jersey, a 3-0 win on Oct. 8. On Saturday, he made 31 saves.

"He held us in there in the first period when they had some chances, and we weren't really generating much," winger Wayne Simmonds said after the first three-point game of his career. "We came back and rewarded him with a couple of goals there, and it's good to see him playing well."

Bryzgalov has allowed one goal in each of his last two games, his best streak since he opened the season by surrendering one goal to Boston and then blanking the Devils.

"He seems like he's really focused on what he's doing right now," coach Peter Laviolette said.

"I think he looked confident in the net tonight," Hartnell said. "He played the puck a little better."

The victory was tempered by the Flyers' losing three players to injuries: Danny Briere (concussion), Jaromir Jagr (groin), and Zac Rinaldo (upper body).

Claude Giroux, who has been battling a slump, and Simmonds (empty-net goal) each collected a pair of assists.

Hartnell has 22 goals, tops on the team and tied for eighth in the NHL. He said he would be "ecstatic and on the first flight there" if he is picked to replace an injured all-star. "But whatever happens, happens.

"We have a big match," he said, referring to Sunday's game against Boston, "so that's what we're worried about."

Bryzgalov downplayed his modest two-game winning streak. Asked if he was getting to where he wants to be, he replied: "We start this conversation again, huh? Let's take this one game at a time. OK? Worry about the next game and not ask myself if I'm in perfect shape right now and what I'm going do next week. Who cares? Stop worrying about me. Worry about different things. Too much things in the media."

Added Bryzgalov: "Let me alone, guys. Just let me be and let me play hockey."

After he showered, Bryzgalov claimed he was kidding about his earlier remarks.

Matt Read snapped a scoreless tie thanks to the dirty work provided by Simmonds. Simmonds stripped the puck from defenseman Anton Volchenkov behind the net and fed Read for a one-timer from the slot with 10 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second period.

It was Read's 15th goal, tops among NHL rookies.

About 31/2 minutes later, just nine seconds into a power play, Kimmo Timonen's point drive was tipped past goalie Martin Brodeur by Hartnell from the high slot, making it 2-0. Simmonds set up a screen in front of the 39-year-old Brodeur, who is having a season far below his standards.

Twenty-eight seconds after Hartnell's goal, Alexei Ponikarovsky, acquired from Carolina on Friday, redirected Matt Taormina's shot past Bryzgalov to trim the deficit to 2-1 with 6:28 remaining in the second period.

Midway through the third period, after taking a feed from Giroux, Hartnell one-timed a left-circle shot past Brodeur to put the Flyers ahead, 3-1.

Simmonds, who played with a physical edge, secured the win with his 13th goal, scored on an empty net with 2:22 to go.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBull on Twitter.

|
|
|
|
|