Last night, Emery had the unenviable task of taking on a St. Louis team with the best home record (27-6-2) in the NHL in maybe the Flyers' toughest test of the season.
All Emery did was turn in one of his best performances of the year.
Despite a barrage of shots, through traffic and from every tough angle possible, Emery blanked the Blues for all three periods and 5 minutes of overtime. He was just outdueled by Ryan Miller in the shootout, as the Flyers fell to the Blues, 1-0, in front of 18,647 at Scottrade Center.
"He definitely won us a point tonight," Scott Hartnell said. "He's been incredible. He's making the saves. He's doing a great job of stopping the pucks and moving them to the 'D.' It's great when you have two goalies that can win every night. In 2 weeks, when the season is over, we'll look back and see how big this point is."
U.S. Olympic shootout specialist T.J. Oshie scored for the Blues in the shootout and Kevin Shattenkirk topped off the win. Neither Claude Giroux nor Vinny Lecavalier could find the back of the net in the skills competition.
The Flyers (3-7 overall) have dropped two games in a row in the shootout. Emery is now 0-2 in shootouts this season and has allowed a startling five goals on seven shots.
Similarly, Emery's overall numbers for the season - an 8-10-2 record with a .906 save percentage and 2.81 goals against-average - are not impressive, but they hardly tell his story. And there are no shootouts in the postseason.
"I've put him in a lot of tough games. He's come up big," Berube said. "He's a winner. He wins. He's a battler, he battled hard tonight and did a real good job."
For Emery, it was an unusual way to pick up his second shutout of the season and 16th of his career.
"It's frustrating, going the distance and then falling in the shootout," Emery said. "But you know, I thought we did well. That's a tough team to play against. They cycle a lot, they spin it out of the corner, they just kind of throw it at the net and try to make that backdoor pass pass where they bounce it off guys. I thought we worked really hard."
At the other end, it wasn't as if the Flyers lacked in quality scoring chances. Miller, now 10-3-1 since being acquired from Buffalo in February, seemed to always have an answer. Hartnell missed on a point-blank chance in the first 10 seconds.
Then, after Alex Pietrangelo ran into partner Jay Bouwmeester and took him down, Claude Giroux squandered a two-on-none break when he dished off to Michael Raffl. Raffl was robbed by Miller in the second period after a beautiful pass from Mark Streit.
"To be honest, I got too excited," Giroux said. "Maybe I should have just taken the breakaway. But I thought Raffl was beside me. Turned out, he was a little behind me."
With the point and help from others, the Flyers' magic number to clinch a playoff spot continues to shrink. Last night, the Blue Jackets blew a two-goal lead and lost in overtime. After resting, it appears Mason will face Columbus, the team directly below the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division, tomorrow night at home.
Since March 15, the Flyers have earned 10 of a possible 12 points (4-0-2) against the Penguins (twice), Blues (twice), Blackhawks and Bruins. Giroux said it "doesn't matter what people say, it's about what you do," but the way the Flyers have played over not just the past month but also since November, it's getting harder to say they don't belong in conversation with that group.
"It's been a tough stretch of games, teams that have been dominant all year," Hartnell said. "I think it puts us right there with the elite teams in the league."
The Flyers have not won in three tries in St. Louis since Dec. 17, 2005 . . . Former Flyer Chris Pronger, now living in St. Louis, stopped in the locker postgame to chat with teammates . . . Kimmo Timonen missed his fourth game of the season with an "upper-body" injury. Craig Berube said Timonen could have possibly played, but the Flyers opted to play it safe and rest the 39-year-old defenseman . . . Andrew MacDonald was limping after blocking a shot with his right skate . . . Since the NHL introduced the shootout in 2005, last night was the fourth time the Flyers played a game that went all 65 minutes without a goal. They are now 2-2 in those games.
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