Thursday, November 17, 2011

Read, Flyers get last laugh with 2-1 win over Coyotes

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Magazine

The big story is no longer that Ilya Bryzgalov played against his former teammates for the first time. Fact is, it happens so much these days with trades and free agency, that it's no longer a narrative worth pursuing.

What may be, is that Phoenix Coyotes hockey is a style of play in which even Michelangelo could not find any inspiration.

In front of a less-than-sellout crowd, which had more reason to sit on their hands than to wave them in the air until the final 20 seconds of regulation, Matt Read's rebound score sent the Flyers past the 'Yotes by a 2-1 count on Thursday night.

Read's tally came with 18.6 seconds remaining. It was the product of hard work along the left boards by Jakub Voracek, who emerged from a scrum with the puck and threw it on net. Mike Smith kicked the shot aside, but right to Max Talbot, who delayed a second before shuttling the puck across the crease where Read tucked it inside the left post for the deciding score.

And so, Bryzgalov got the last laugh, voted third star after stopping 30-of-31 shots by his former club. James van Riemsdyk netted the other goal as the Flyers continued their run of success, going unbeaten in regulation in their last six games (4-0-2).

One sour note on the night was that Jaromir Jagr suffered a lower-body injury, suspected to be a groin issue, late in the first period. He did not return.

But it wouldn't have mattered if Jagr came back, because Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett's approach to the game has all the earmarks of planning during a sleepwalking episode.

Smith acquitted himself well, making 40 saves, and you wouldn't think that a game which featured 73 combined shots could be considered dull, really had to be here to experience it.

Phoenix posted a 16-12 shot advantage in a scoreless opening period, but didn't test their former goaltender with quality chances.

A taste of excitement only crept into the action when Zac Rinaldo and Kyle Chipchura dropped the gloves deep inside the Coyotes' zone with 3:38 played in the second period.

But it was the Flyers who eventually drew first blood late in the middle period, as van Riemsdyk carried down the right wing on a 2-on-1, skated into the right circle and whipped a shot just under the crossbar.

It looked like the home team might have things under control from there, but the feeling of safety was punctured roughly 40 seconds later when a bad giveaway inside their own zone sprung Ray Whitney up the middle on a clean breakaway. Bryzgalov came to the top of his crease and snagged the rising backhanded chance with a sweeping flourish of his glove.

Phoenix did managed to tie the score at the 3:38 mark of the third, when Boedker whacked a loose puck off the back of Bryzgalov's pad at the right post and over the goal line. The score bore quite a resemblance to ones close in which Martin Biron gave up, failing as he often did to properly cut off space at each post on wraparound chances.

Notes: Phoenix had won four of the last five meetings coming in...It was the first time the Flyers beat the Coyotes in regulation at home since December 5, 2003...Philly leads the series 12-8-1 since the Jets relocated from Winnipeg in 1996...Van Riemsdyk snapped a three-game goal drought...Read has a three-game goal streak...Philadelphia travels to Winnipeg on Saturday.

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