PITTSBURGH _ After the Flyers stole Game 1 in Pittsburgh, more was written about the Penguins’ fans in bear costumes - mocking a certain goalie - than Ilya Bryzgalov’s performance.
Yes, I’m guilty, too.
But after an unsettling start, it should be noted that Bryzgalov got into a groove and did not allow any goals after the first period.
“He gave us a chance to come back,” center Claude Giroux said.
The Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit and stunned the Penguins, 4-3, in the series opener Wednesday.
Game 2 is Friday night in Pittsburgh.
Primarily because of a chip fracture in his right foot, Bryzgalov played just four of the final six regular-season games, so there were concerns about whether he would be rusty.
“He didn’t have that much time off; he missed a few games and that was it,” coach Peter Laviolette said after his team’s morning skate Friday. “He played 22 of 26 (actually, 21 of 26, including 19 of 20 at one point) for us. We feel he’s rested and he’s ready. He played a good amount of games this year. He was playing well down the stretch….and I thought he really did nice job in Game 1.”
Bryzgalov couldn’t be faulted for any of the Penguins’ three goals, but he didn’t look at his best in the first 20 minutes. He got better as the game went on, turning aside a handful of quality opportunities.
The first period “was a little overwhelming,” Laviolette said. “We were standing around too much, and that usually leads to chances coming back at your net. After the first period, he was sharp.”
If the Flyers are going to win this fascinating Pennsylvania Cold War series, they will need more of the same. Brayden Schenn and Danny Briere stole the spotlight in Game 1, but Bryzglaov remains the Flyers’ key.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.