UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Ilya Bryzgalov hasn’t talked about himself since he turned his game around, but his teammates are more than willing. The goalie has been saving pucks, so why mess with success? In fact, Bryzgalov didn’t just get another win; he set the Flyers’ all-time shutout streak record. We may never hear from him again.
With 8:32 left in the second period of the Flyers’ 3-2 win over the New York Islanders, Bryzgalov broke the Flyers’ shutout streak set by John Vanbiesbrouck of 227:40.
A month ago, it seemed like an impossible feat, but the shutout streak is the pinnacle of Bryzgalov’s remarkable turnaround this season and his teammates can see a big difference in his play.
“Lately he’s been showing a lot more confidence in net,” Matt Read said. “It’s his blue paint and he’s not letting anyone in it. He’s been very confident, very relaxed in there. He’s been great for us making big saves when he needs to.”
He needed to right before the team record was broken in the second period. He turned aside shots from Mark Eaton and Michael Grabner with ease, backing up the Flyers when they made defensive mistakes, but he wasn’t done there.
While he may have broken the team’s record in the second period, his own personal mark was still not met. In the 2006 playoffs, when he was with the Anaheim Ducks, he had a shutout streak of 249:15 in a series against the Calgary Flames and it carried over into the Western Conference semifinals against the Colorado Avalanche.
In the third period on Thursday night, Bryzgalov broke that too. With 6:57 left in the game he beat his own shutout streak. The team has known of the streak and has been playing accordingly in front of him.
“When you see a goalie who’s confident it helps the team be a little bit better and you want to do those little things a little bit better to prevent goals against,” Read said. “When they have opportunities, he’s shutting the door and that’s all you can ask for.”
Only half a minute after the new record was established, Bryzgalov’s streak snapped. He allowed goals on back-to-back shots from Michael Grabner and John Tavares. The Flyers still snuck out with a win, however, and an important two points in the standings.