Thursday, January 15, 2015

Canucks' Miller latest goaltender to befuddle Flyers

Philadelphia, PA -- Returning to action after missing two games with a touch of the flu Ryan Miller didn't miss a beat as his opponents missed all of theirs.

The veteran American backstop turned away all 30 shots he faced to post his fourth shutout of the season, and the Vancouver Canucks rode an early burst of offense to subdue the Philadelphia Flyers by a 4-0 count on Thursday.

Miller became only the second Canucks goaltender in franchise history to blank the Orange and Black here. Old nemesis Roberto Luongo had been the first and only when he made 38 saves in a 3-0 win in December of 2009 which ultimately spelled doom for the John Stevens head coaching era.

Nick Bonino, Henrik Sedin, Radim Vrbata and Jannik Hansen lit the lamp for the Canucks, who put the brakes on a three-game skid and picked up their first win on a five-game road trip.

Starter Ray Emery was pulled early in the second after giving up three goals on 12 shots. Rob Zepp finished the contest by permitting one shot by on 10 chances for the Flyers, who were blanked in back-to-back games for the first time since April.

Despite an increase in shots and chances from Wednesday's 1-0 loss in Washington, Craig Berube's club looked like dead men walking in a similar fashion to last Saturday's home loss to the Boston Bruins.

The hosts had the early shot and territorial edge, but the visitors hit the scoreboard first. Bonino made a spin move between the circles against Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and beat Emery with a shot inside the right post at 6:35.

It was 2-0 at 13:21, only seconds into the Canucks' first advantage when Daniel Sedin fed brother Henrik for an expert mid-air deflection from the left side.

Vancouver needed only 15 seconds to capitalize on their second power-play chance as Vrbata let loose from the left circle at 1:21 of the second, and Zepp was rudely welcomed to the contest on a breakaway score from Hansen only 22 seconds later.

Miller robbed Brayden Schenn from the top of the right circle with a slick glove save with almost 6 1/2 minutes elapsed. He added eight more over the remainder of the period.

Despite facing 12 Philadelphia shots in the third, Miller was not seriously tested on any.

The setback dropped the Flyers to 3-12-1 in eight sets of back-to-back games this season. They have one more gauntlet before the All-Star break, against the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division: at Uniondale with the Islanders on Monday afternoon and then back home Tuesday night to entertain the Penguins.

Notes: After failing to hold the Flyers off the scoreboard in any of his previous starts against the club, Miller has recorded shutouts in back-to-back appearances against them -- one with the Blues and one for the Canucks ... Vancouver improved to 14-0-0 this season when scoring at least four times ... The last time the Orange and Black were shut out in back-to-back games: Apr. 1-3, 2014 (1-0 shootout loss at STL and 2-0 loss vs. CLB), while the last time both occurred in regulation was Nov. 28-Dec. 3, 2009 (1-0 at ATL and 3-0 vs. VAN) ... Flyers forward Scott Laughton missed the contest, ruled day-to-day after taking a hard, high hit from Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen on Wednesday.

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