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Philly's Bryzgalov bounces back in win over Penguins

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The first period was a bear for Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who had a few of the furry animals watching him rinkside.

But he never hid.

Bryzgalov allowed three early goals but shut out the Penguins for the final 43 minutes of Wednesday night's 4-3 overtime victory at Consol Energy Center in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.

"What we did today was unbelievable," Bryzgalov said. "To beat Pittsburgh when we were down, 3-0, after the first period is not easy."

Known for giving unusual answers, Bryzgalov raised eyebrows this week when he said he was only afraid of bears. That inspired a few fans to don bear costumes last night.

"How did they get tickets?" Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr said. "I was scared, too."

Bryzgalov didn't show it. Only one of his goals against could be called partially his fault. The high-priced standout proved his worth by keeping the Flyers in position for their comeback.

"Those goals weren't his fault, obviously," said forward Brayden Schenn, whose power-play goal tied it with 7:37 left. "He played great for us, especially when it was 3-0."

Bryzgalov shut out the Penguins in the second and third periods, stopping 15 straight shots. Among them was an up-close stop on Evgeni Malkin, who slipped between two Flyers defenders.

After two goals by Danny Briere and Schenn's tying goal, Jakub Voracek won it 2:23 into overtime.

The victory ended Bryzgalov's postseason losing streak at five games and helped answer questions about whether he could carry the Flyers to the Stanley Cup. The 31-year-old Russian hasn't won a playoff series since 2006, his rookie season with Anaheim.

Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots and bettered Marc-Andre Fleury during the final 43 minutes.

"After this series, they'll talk about one goaltender having done his job," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said before Game 1. "And that will be the team that wins four games first."

Right now, Bryzgalov leads 1-0.

Sidney Crosby was the first to score on Bryzgalov, with a backhand shot between the legs of Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. Crosby found the puck in Grossmann's feet and flipped it over Bryzgalov's left shoulder to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead 3:43 into the game.

Tyler Kennedy snapped a shot past Bryzgalov's blocker about four minutes later to finish a two-on-one with Jordan Staal. Bryzgalov had little chance to stop either.

The third goal, with just 37 seconds left, was the one Bryzgalov could have prevented with a little luck. Steve Sullivan's pass from behind the net hit Bryzgalov's stick and popped in the air, and Pascal Dupuis knocked it into the net.

The Flyers saw Bryzgalov as the premier goaltender they lacked and signed the free agent to a nine-year, $51 million contract in June. He won 33 games this season, but his play was uneven at times.

Photo Galleries

Pens Rally

Pens Rally

A Penguins rally at the Allegheny County Courthouse courtyard in anticipation of the start of the Penguins playoff game against Philadelphia Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

Game 1 Penguins vs. Flyers 411/12

Game 1 Penguins vs. Flyers  <sup>4</sup>⁄<sub>11</sub>/12

The Flyers defeat the Penguins, 4-3 in overtime, in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoff series.

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