Mar 4, 2012, 10:01 PM EDT
Missing two of their leading defenders, the Flyers were poised to have their hands full with a Washington Capitals team looking to storm back from a home shutout earlier in the weekend. But Ilya Bryzgalov has clearly been getting his game on track, and he took another major step forward Sunday night, posting a shutout that his team needed, as they scored just one goal.
Despite being without Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, who missed the game with lower body injuries, the Flyers played some very good defense. Braydon Coburn in particular had a great game. But the Caps did get their opportunities, and Bryz had to be sharp all night.
His positioning was perfect or damn near it on every shot, even those that were redirected. This is the game we’ve been waiting for from Bryzgalov.
The fourth line would contribute the game’s only goal, with Eric Wellwood deflecting in a nice pass from Pavel Kubina. It should come as no surprise that the goal came very soon after Peter Laviolette called a timeout to pump up his team, which had been a little flat.
One of the scarier moments of the game came when Kubina was hit in the face with a shot from Alex Ovechkin. It wasn’t as bad as that sounds, but he was opened up and bleeding, needing to leave the ice. But he returned soon after and continued to play well. The D really stepped up without two of its cornerstones, but losing another would have been scary.
Another bracing moment was when Erik Gustafsson was slammed into the boards by Troy Brouwer, opening the gate to the Caps bench with his head. Ever the stand-up guy, Scott Hartnell went after Brouwer immediately and had a solid, if brief, fight.
The hit was legal, but that’s a smart fight to take. Too bad he lost his edge, but the decision still goes to Hartnell. Only crappy thing about that fight was it interrupted the announcers talking about how fair-weather the Caps fans are.
Overall, it was a pretty intense game that was blissfully uninterrupted by whistles. Only one minor penalty was called in the game, a slash on the Caps’ Jason Chimera, who probably earned at least three more that went uncalled. But, as encouraging as the goaltending and defensive efforts were, so too was the Flyers’ ability to stay out of the box again.
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