Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jagr gets milestone OT winner, Flyers escape Jets

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

If Queen Elizabeth II had been looking down from the rafters of the MTS Centre as she had for so many years at the Winnipeg Arena, Her Majesty surely would have approved of such a heart-stopping matchup.

Jaromir Jagr's tally with 43.6 seconds left in overtime -- his NHL record 16th career marker beyond regulation -- spoiled a 50-save performance by Ondrej Pavelec and sent Philadelphia past Winnipeg by a 5-4 count on Tuesday.

Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux all posted a goal and one assist for the Flyers, who avoided a season sweep and won their second game in three thanks to a season-high in shots on net.

In fact, the onslaught matched the club record for most shots in one road game, after a 55-shot effort in a 4-3 OT win at Boston on March 1, 2007.

"We have four lines and they can all score goals. You have to make the other team tired because every line has a chance to score," Jagr said of the Orange and Black, who have tallied an NHL-best 198 times this season, three better than Vancouver. "We switched a lot on the fly because of injuries, but we can go back to the way it was now. It doesn't matter how many they score against us because we know we can score a lot."

Ilya Bryzgalov was solid enough, making 22 saves for his second victory in three starts. He seemed unrattled by the enemy fan base chanting his name throughout.

It was a fine opening salvo for a four-game road swing that continues on Thursday in Edmonton, something which head coach Peter Laviolette praised:

"I’m really proud that the guys kept coming and pumping,” he said. “It was one of those gutsy efforts that you look back on and that might have been one of our best, toughest, wins of the year. You know, we kept fighting and kept pushing to get those two points.”

Andrew Ladd netted a pair of goals and Tim Stapleton added three helpers for the Jets, whose three game win streak came to an end.

Pavelec tied a career-high for saves in defeat. He also stopped 50 in a 3-1 win at Ottawa on October 31, 2009.

The 24-year-old Czech, born in the same town (Kladno) as Jagr, preserved a one-goal margin with the save of the year -- coming across his crease and diving to make a glove stop on Jakub Voracek inside of eight minutes to play on a Philadelphia advantage. He also did the splits to record a sprawling stop on Simmonds seconds later at the opposite post.

Bryzgalov was pulled for an extra skater with just over a minute remaining, and after almost an entire shift worth of patience in the neutral zone, James van Riemsdyk decided to take matters into his own hands. He flew up the left-wing side, cut to the net and his centering feed found its way to Simmonds for a successful redirect in front 9.7 seconds to play.

On the winner, Danny Briere emerged from a battle behind the net with the puck and wheeled around for a dish into the slot. Jagr did the rest, beating a Jets defenseman and his countryman to the left post.

"Yes, I'm disappointed. I'm happy we got the point. Pavelec was by far the best player on the ice," said Jets head coach Claude Noel. "We might not have gotten a point if not for him. Did we deserve to get two? You can be the judge of that."

It looked like another long night in Manitoba's capital for the visitors, when Dustin Byfuglien slipped a right-point blast between Bryzgalov's pads on a power play with 7:29 left in the first period.

Giroux evened the score a little over three minutes later on a high backhander from the left side, then Hartnell put the Flyers up 2-1 on the advantage with 1:09 played in the second.

Ladd drew the hosts even during another power play on a shot in close at the 7:52 mark, then gave the Jets a one-goal edge just over a minute later on a backhander from just outside the crease.

Max Talbot then followed up a blocked Andrej Meszaros' point drive and beat Pavelec for a 3-3 game at 11:14.

Brayden Schenn even got in on the crease action early in the final period, as he made twin stops seconds apart on Bryan Little and Ladd with Bryzgalov out of position.

That didn't change fortune much when Winnipeg added its third power-play score of the contest to take a 4-3 lead at 4:57 of the third. Bryzgalov looked foolish when he stabbed at Evander Kane's floater from below the right circle with his glove and missed.

Notes: Philly improved to 12-15-2 when giving up the game's first goal...Pavelec's previous season-high in saves was 39, accomplished on November 8 at Buffalo and December 6 against Boston and Hartnell's tally was his league-best 14th on the power play, one better than Pittsburgh's James Neal...Ladd has scored three times in the last two games following a 13-game goal drought...The last time a team based in Winnipeg swept the Flyers was 1984-85, when the original Jets won all three of that season's matchups...Philadelphia hasn't lost consecutive games in Manitoba's capital since dropping four in a row from November of 1983 to December of 1985...Jagr had been tied with Mats Sundin, Patrik Elias and Sergei Fedorov for overtime heroics...Little added two assists in the setback...Tuesday's win marked the first time since 1984-85 that the Flyers unloaded 48-or-more shots on one club twice in one season, having done it against the Vancouver Canucks (58 shots in a 13-2 win on 10/18/84 and 50 in a 7-4 win on 12/28/84)...Philly registered 48 in a 9-8 home loss on October 27...Giroux recorded a career high 10 shots on goal...The clubs combined for 39 goals in the four-game season set.

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