Flyers put on a late show

Posted: February 22, 2012

WINNIPEG - James van Riemsdyk twirled in the neutral zone, even on one leg at one point, as he curled around a Jets defender and nearly fumbled the puck twice before breaking the blue line.

Still nearly 100 feet from Ondrej Pavelec, van Riemsdyk navigated around the boards as the time remaining on the Flyers' season series with Winnipeg slowly whittled down to zero, before shoveling off a last-second prayer toward Wayne Simmonds.

Apparently, there is a Hockey God. He resides in the True North.

Simmonds somehow dumped a one-timer behind Pavelec with 9.7 seconds remaining in regulation and Jaromir Jagr erased the Flyers' three periods of frustration with an overtime winner 4:16 into the extra session, 5-4. It was the Flyers' first win over Winnipeg this season after three losses.

For the first 59 minutes and 50 seconds, the contest featured exactly what the Flyers have seen over the last few weeks: a bazillion bullets fired toward the opposition with little results, three power-play goals against, and more shoddy play from Ilya Bryzgalov.

Despite it all, they escaped with the two points to avoid falling into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

"I really liked our game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "I'm really proud that the guys kept coming, kept pumping. You know, it was one of those gutsy efforts that you look back on. It might be one of our best, toughest wins of the year, to keep fighting and to keep pushing to get the two points."

Until van Riemsdyk's dish to Simmonds, the game looked like a disaster.

And for Bryzgalov, the nightmare started right after the puck dropped, as the 15,004 Winnipeg fans in the loud-and-cozy MTS Centre mocked him repeatedly with "Il-ya, Il-ya, Il-ya" chants.

That intensified thoughout the game - like when Bryzgalov whiffed on a high floater from the next universe in the third period that gave Evander Kane his 23rd goal of the season and the Jets a 4-3 lead.

Rather than being thankful he was bailed out like a Wall Street bank, Bryzgalov said he enjoyed the "support," juxtaposing Winnipeg's fans against Philly.

"I like it,"' Bryzgalov said. "It was a great atmosphere. I realized, every building is going to support me like here. It was nice to hear cheering, 'Il-ya, Il-ya.' I never heard that before, anywhere.

"When 15,000 people support you, it's very impressive. Here, they were cheering. In Philly, they boo me."

Laviolette conceded that Bryzgalov "might have had a few that he would've liked back," like the Kane goal, which didn't have to find its way through any traffic from the top of the circle.

"It was a stupid mistake," Bryzgalov said. "I miscalculated the distance between the puck and my glove. The puck hit the edge of my glove and went in. I'm sick and tired of these mistakes. It's not like I'm playing bad, just consistently doing some stupid mistakes."

Some of the Flyers' other mistakes, like allowing three power-play goals for the third time in the month of February, were couched by the win. But suddenly, things are looking up for the Flyers, who have stops in Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose left on this marathon trip. Yes, the Flyers are in fifth place in the East, but only seven teams in the league have more points.

"Our penalty kill has to be better," newcomer Pavel Kubina said bluntly. "We've just got to work on it. It's about desperation and blocking shots and working. We have to outwork the other team on their power play. That's the bottom line."

For the Flyers, the bottom line was a positive. Their 55 shots on net tied a franchise record for a road game, one that was set in an overtime win in Boston on March 1, 2007.

"I think we won because the team deserved to win," Bryzgalov said. "They created so many chances to score. I think it's a fair result."

The game ended up being about the Flyers' muscle in front instead of the music in Bryzgalov's ears. It was the sixth straight game Simmonds or Max Talbot have scored a goal and the second time in three games in which they've both scored.

"You've got to play 60 minutes," Jagr said. "You never know. You don't give up until it's over."

Slap shots

The Flyers are 12-10-3 all-time in Winnipeg . . . Nearly 14 percent of Winnipeg's entire offensive output this season (157 goals) has been scored against the Flyers (21) . . . Jaromir Jagr's winner was the 16th overtime goal of his career, setting an NHL record. He had been tied with retired players Mats Sundin and Sergei Fedorov and Devils forward Patrik Elias . . . The Flyers are 9-9-1 over the last two seasons when posting 40 or more shots on net.


For more news and analysis,

read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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