The Flyers dictated this game for the majority of its 60-plus minutes, but a hot goalie and some missed opportunities left it open for Phoenix to steal the overtime win right out from under them.
They forced Phoenix penalties, drove the net for chances, and even seemed to beat goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on several occasions, but the Flyers couldn’t beat his quick recoveries and lucky posts, keeping this a tight game right up until the point when they lost it.
Citing five or six hit posts, Peter Laviolette agreed that Bryzgalov’s play was a major factor in the game’s outcome.
“He made some really nice saves,” Laviolette said. “There were opportunities that came around the net and we couldn’t get it over the line. He was excellent tonight.”
Despite the wall in front of them, the Flyers took the early lead after Ville Leino tipped a Matt Carle wrist shot through a crowd and past Bryzgalov.
That 1-0 advantage was the only time the Flyers would taste the lead all night.
Nearly 40 minutes later, in the third period, Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker muscled Kimmo Timonen off the puck, leaving Andrej Meszaros all alone to cover Boedker and the streaking Eric Belanger, whom Boedker found for the tying goal.
Later in the third, a bouncing puck that Sergei Bobrovsky tried to sweep away rolled up and over his stick and into the net to put Phoenix ahead 2-1.
After this, the Flyers went back to controlling the play the way they had earlier in the game.
With the goalie pulled in the final minute, Claude Giroux made a spectacular play by picking up his own rebound and – while being flipped over by a defender – roofing it over the shoulder of Bryzgalov.
With the game sent to overtime, the Flyers suffered a questionable hooking call on Kimmo Timonen that put them down a man, giving the Coyotes the space and opportunities they needed to score the game-winner.
Outside of those few minutes in the third where the Flyers let a pair slip by, they were the better team all night. They kept Phoenix to the outside defensively, held the puck in the offensive zone for minutes at a time and gave Bryzgalov more work than he could have asked for.
Despite the loss, captain Mike Richards thought his team put forth a strong effort and played a good game.
“I thought the pace of play was good tonight. We played well; we had a lot of chances,” he said. “They were very opportunistic and they got the last shot.”
And in overtime, it was Coyote’s captain Shane Doan who blew that last shot by a sprawling Bobrovsky to extend his team’s winning streak to eight games in a row.
Bartulis injured by Upshall
It didn’t take long for the Wells Fargo Center crowd to turn on one time fan favorite Scottie Upshall, who made his return to Philadelphia Tuesday night with the Phoenix Coyotes.
In the second period of the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss, Upshall hit defenseman Oskars Bartulis shoulder to shoulder, sending him head first toward the boards. Bartulis was face down on the ice for several minutes while Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin attended to what GM Paul Holmgren called a shoulder injury. He did not return to the game.
The general manager met the media following the game and made it clear that he was not happy with the hit delivered by Upshall.
“Oskars was just standing there minding his own business,” Holmgren said. “It was a late hit…. I guess I have a little bit of a problem with it, yeah. It’s not really like Scottie to do that, but things happen.”
Head coach Peter Laviolette said that he thought Upshall should have received a major penalty for the hit. He only received a two minute boarding minor.
Upshall, while upset with the injury, defended the play after the game.
“It was just a play, a routine play going to the net hard. I couldn’t really see the puck get covered, nor could I hear a whistle,” Upshall said. “I didn’t intentionally go to drive him, let alone drive him into the boards. I hope he’s all right. Those plays happen a lot where guys are just standing up to each other. I hope he’s all right.”
Bartulis will have an MRI Wednesday, but it seems unlikely that the defenseman will return to the lineup anytime soon. Holmgren said that Sean O’Donnell, who just yesterday was to miss 10-14 days, would be a possibility to replace him in the lineup Thursday.
“He got good news yesterday on his MRI and it’s not a ligament problem that we’re dealing with,” Holmgren said. “He actually skated for about 40 minutes today and felt pretty good.”
If O’Donnell can’t go the Flyers would likely be forced to place him on IR and recall either Danny Syvret and Erik Gustafsson. Holmgren said that he would worry about that on Wednesday.
Shelley stitched up
Following his second period bout with Nolan Yonkman, Flyers’ tough guy Jody Shelley headed straight to the locker room where he received approximately 60 stitches.
Shelley won the fight at center ice, but was noticeably bleeding below his eye.
A team spokesman said he was unsure of Shelley’s status when the New York Islanders come to town Thursday night.
Shay Roddy contributed to this report.