Jets host Flyers in rematch of season's wildest game
FLYERS (11-4-3) at JETS (7-9-3)
TV: CBC, CSN-Philadelphia
Philadelphia 6-2-2; Winnipeg 4-4-2
This is the second of four games between the teams. In first meeting, Oct. 27, the teams combined for 17 goals in Winnipeg's 9-8 win, the most in an NHL game since 1996.
Can the Flyers' hot run -- they're 6-0-2 in their last eight and sat atop the Eastern Conference on Friday morning -- continue in cold Winnipeg?
The last time the Flyers and Jets played, Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov came on in relief of starter Sergei Bobrovsky and allowed four goals on 10 shots, and Bryzgalov memorably said, "I am lost in the woods right now."
That game capped a run that saw him lose four straight while allowing at least four goals in each game. He quickly found the path out of the woods, however. Since then, he's 5-0-1 and hasn't allowed more than two goals in any of the games.
The most recent game in that run was Thursday's 2-1 win against the Coyotes, Bryzgalov's former team. He stopped 30 of 31 shots and left his team in position to win the game on rookie Matt Read's goal with 18.5 seconds left in regulation.
"He seems to be pretty steadfast from day to day," coach Peter Laviolette said of Bryzgalov on Thursday. "He gave us an opportunity to win. We had to fight. It took 59-plus minutes for us to get the lead and finish the game, but he was solid, like he's been for the last two weeks for us."
Two straight wins won't get them in the playoffs, but the confidence level in Winnipeg is on the rise following victories Monday against the Lightning and Thursday against the Capitals. Coach Claude Noel believes the wins are the result of improved defensive play -- the Jets allowed three goals in the two victories, including holding the Caps to just one goal Thursday.
"It's nice to see us defend that way because that really has to be the foundation for winning," Noel told the Winnipeg Sun following Thursday's win. "Regardless of what level you're at, you have to be able to defend. I'm not necessarily a defensive coach, but I do understand that's how it works. Defending is about sacrifices and team play and we're doing that."
Things could have gone south early, as Alexander Semin's goal 3:53 into the game put the Caps ahead, but the Jets and goalie Ondrej Pavelec
buttoned things down after that.
"We know the type of team we are," said Evander Kane
, who scored a pair of goals Thursday. "When everybody plays their best and brings it every night and we put it together, we're a pretty good team and a tough team to play against. We've proven that the last two (games)."
Read has goals in three straight games for the Flyers, including a pair of game-winners. … Kane has 3 goals in his last two games and leads the Jets with 8 goals.
Philadelphia will be without forward Jaromir Jagr, who suffered a lower-body injury -- CSNPhillly.com is reporting it to be a groin strain -- during Thursday's game. … Already missing injured defensemen Ron Hainsey
(upper body), Derek Meech
(lower body), Tobias Enstrom
(collarbone), and Randy Jones
(ankle), blueliner Brett Festerling
is questionable for Winnipeg with an upper-body injury that kept him out of Thursday's game.
If Kane gets on the board, the Jets should feel pretty good about their chances in that game -- they're 6-0-0 when he scores a goal.
Bryzgalov admitted Thursday's game against the Coyotes would be an emotional one for him, and leading up to the game, the Flyers goalie had nothing but praise for the team he spent most of the previous four seasons with.
However, two former teammates -- defensemen Derek Morris and Adrian Aucoin -- publicly ripped Bryzgalov and intimated that the team was better now with Mike Smith in net.
Bryzgalov hadn't heard the comments until after the game, and while he appeared hurt by them, refused to fire back or gloat in the win.
"I always thought good about these guys," he told reporters. "They are good defensemen and good guys. … Every person in their life has an opinion about everyone and we can't pay attention to it. If he thinks like that, I can't change his mind."