In recent Flyers playoff history, the most memorable save by a goaltender remains Brian Boucher’s sprawling robbery of the New Jersey Devils’ Patrick Elias in Game 3 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals.
But for a sheer, visceral wow, it is hard to match the glove save that Ilya Bryzgalov made Friday night against the Penguins’ Kris Letang.
With the Flyers already trailing by 2-0 in the middle of the first period, Letang corralled a rebound and found himself staring at a yawningly wide open net. Letang had a ton of time to survey his target, or so it seemed. It was one of those moments that appeared frozen in everyone’s consciousness -- and the stakes were enormous. It seems silly to say after the Flyers’ fought back again and beat the Penguins, 8-5, but another goal in that spot might have been a bridge too far, even for this resilient bunch.
Anyway, Letang fired and Bryzgalov reached and flashed his glove -- and the puck was stuck inside. It was first-degree robbery.
But there was a catch after Bryzgalov’s catch: there was a small chance that the glove was over the goal line when he caught it, which would have made it a goal (and spoiled the story). The NHL video review people in Toronto gave it a look and determined pretty quickly that while the glove did flirt with the goal line, there was no evidence that the puck was ever over the line.
It was the save that saved the game, at least for that moment. And after it was over, Bryzgalov was not all of that impressed with what he did.
“He just put it in my glove,” Bryzgalov said.
“Kind of,” he said. “It’s pretty much a small chance...It was pretty much a lucky save.”
For the record, Bryzgalov was much more impressed by the resilience of his teammates. It has been a wild series -- Bryzgalov made several great saves and still allowed five goals -- and the team in front of him has yet to buckle.
“You have two choices: just quit and say, ‘Well, OK, we’re done,’ or fight to the end and never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s why we love this sport -- it’s an unpredictable game. If you fight to the end, sometimes good things happen.”