It's become a mere formality for the Philadelphia Flyers when a game goes beyond the overtime period. They will lose the skills competition shootout, it's almost guaranteed. After 65 minutes could not produce a single, solitary goal from the New York Islanders or Flyers Tuesday night, it was pretty much a foregone conclusion as to what would occur next.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who had stopped two of the three shooters he faced in the shootout last week against the Winnipeg Jets in a 2-1 defeat, reverted to posing as an empty net against the Isles. He failed to stop Frans Nielsen and John Tavares, while both Philly skaters -- Danny Briere and Wayne Simmonds -- were denied by the wall that protected the front of the Islanders' net all night, Evgeni Nabokov.
One of the problems for the Flyers in the shootouts seemed to be Peter Laviolette electing to go first, firmly placing the onus on his netminders to have to come up with a save when his player didn't come through. But it doesn't seem to matter.
Tonight, Laviolette made New York shoot first, and Nielsen immediately put the pressure on by sending a backhander top shelf to the glove side. A major issue is the entire Philly roster has seemingly forgotten how to score on the breakaway when taking the shootout, and they've suffered the consequences -- which could come back to bite them in the end when teams are jostling for final position in the standings in mid-April.
Shoot first lose, shoot last lose. It does not appear to matter.
Bryzgalov now has stopped just two of nine shootout offerings this season. Whether you like the shootout or not, it's an integral way of gathering all-important points over the course of the year, and Philadelphia is not gaining many at all.
The Flyers dropped to 1-5 in shootouts during the present campaign, garnering just one of a possible six extra points that were available for the taking. Bryzgalov is now 0-4 in the skills competition with the Flyers.
The team played a really good game, outshooting the Isles by a whopping 45-18 count through regulation and the extra five minute period. Nabokov was the difference, plain and simple. He stopped 47 pucks that were sent his way over the entire night, and stole the extra point. That's all that can be said.
Meanwhile at the other end, it was a really good game for Bryzgalov that ultimately ended in frustration. He was called upon to make the more difficult stops early in the game, with his best being a kick save with the left pad to stop an early opportunity generated in close by PA Parenteau on a two-on-one.
And the crime in it all is that Bryzgalov skated off the ice with his second shutout of the season -- something no Flyer goalie even did once all last year -- to a chorus of boos from the home faithful, obviously misdirecting their angst at the inability of the Flyers to muster a single goal in support of their goaltender.
When he was announced as the third star of the game, the boos became even louder.
And so is Ilya Bryzgalov's strange odyssey of the Philly universe in this up-and-down season.