Blues fight past Flyers in shootout

The Blues' Roman Polak is shadowed near the boards by the Flyers' Tye McGinn (15) and Brayden Schenn.
The Blues' Roman Polak is shadowed near the boards by the Flyers' Tye McGinn (15) and Brayden Schenn. (USA Today)
Posted: April 03, 2014

ST. LOUIS - The Flyers' No. 1 goalie, Steve Mason, was given the night off, and their top defenseman, Kimmo Timonen, was back home with a facial injury.

Still, they managed to take the Western Conference's best team, the St. Louis Blues, to the limit on Tuesday night, only to lose in a shootout, 1-0, at the Scottrade Center.

Olympic hero T.J. Oshie and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the shootout, and goalie Ryan Miller was flawless as the Blues avenged a 4-1 loss to the Flyers 10 nights earlier.

The Flyers are 3-7 in shootouts; the Blues are 9-3.

The Flyers managed a point and stayed four points ahead of fourth-place Columbus in the Metropolitan Division. Remarkably, they went 4-0-2 against league heavyweights Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston since April 15.

Miller (31 saves) notched his first shutout in 14 games with St. Louis, which is 27-6-4 at home. The former Sabre made perhaps his best save when he stopped Jake Voracek in front with about 1½ minutes left in overtime.

Flyers backup goalie Ray Emery (28 saves) was also credited with a shutout, his second of the season and 16th of his career.

"I've put him in a lot of tough games, and he's come up big," coach Craig Berube said.

"It's frustrating not to get the second point, but Razor played awesome," winger Scott Hartnell said of Emergy, "and the 'D' was solid. Our forwards did a good job of getting chances, and Miller was good as well."

The Flyers will host Columbus in a key matchup Thursday, and the game will match goalies against their former teams - Mason and Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Flyers were fortunate to be in a scoreless tie heading into the third period. St. Louis fired shots off the post in the opening and closing minutes of the second period. Jaden Schwartz had the first one, while Alex Pietrangelo had the latter one with 15 seconds to go.

The Flyers had little attack time in the second period, though they had a golden chance thwarted when Michael Raffl tried to finish a two-on-one but was robbed by Miller, who made a kick save with about 17 minutes left in the stanza.

"I could have taken my time and gotten it up and it would have been a sure goal," Raffl said.

The Flyers had the better scoring chances in the opening period. The best came about 2½ minutes into the game, when two Blues defenders collided, enabling Claude Giroux and Raffl to head on a two-on-none break.

Giroux stickhandled and, at the last moment, fed Raffl on his left, but Miller stopped the rookie's off-balance shot.

With Timonen sidelined by an injury, Berube juggled each of his three pairings. Nick Grossmann replaced Timonen and was alongside Braydon Coburn on the top pairing, and Erik Gustfasson played for the first time since Feb. 27.

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock is close friends with Berube. When Hitchcock was coaching the Flyers Berube was coaching the AHL Phantoms, who were then in Philadelphia, and their teams would practice on adjacent rinks in Voorhees.

"I think the thing that has made him a great coach is that his decisions are void of emotion," Hitchcock said before the game. "He doesn't get wrapped up in the emotion of dealing with the player - it's you're either doing the job or you're not. . . . If you're not giving, you have to go down a notch - go down to the fourth line, go out of the lineup. He does what's best for the team."

Berube, who replaced Peter Laviolette after the team's 0-3 start, has directed the Flyers to a 39-24-9 record. In recent weeks, they picked up 10 of a possible 12 points against NHL powerhouses Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago, and Boston.

In other words, Tuesday's loss to the best-in-the-West Blues can't undo the months of great work that have put the Flyers on the verge of a playoff spot - and have many teams hoping to avoid them in the postseason.


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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