Neuvirth outshines Mrazek in Wings' shootout loss
Detroit — In the end it came down to one goalie simply making one more save than the other.
Philadelphia’s Michael Neuvirth made one more save than his Czech Republic counterpart Petr Mrazek in the shootout, which gave the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings on Sunday.
Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers in the shootout, while Pavel Datsyuk answered for the Red Wings.
Mrazek (30 saves) and Neuvirth (29 saves) – who know each other and acknowledged each other several times during Sunday’s game — traded impressive saves all game and in overtime before the Flyers finally had the edge in the shootout.
“Both teams played well, there were a lot of chances,” Mrazek said. “Neuvirth was outstanding. We know each other. We knew it would be a good battle. You could see he made some outstanding saves to hold them in the game.”
The Red Wings (23-14-8) have lost only twice in the last seven games (5-1-1) after winning five of six on the just-concluded road trip, while the Flyers (20-15-8) have won five of six (5-0-1).
“It was a good hockey game, (there was) push back and forth,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “Both teams had their chances. Both goalies played real well.
“We did a lot of good stuff but we need more net presence and and more results in terms of scoring goals.”
The Flyers almost swiped the game with microseconds remaining. Brendan Smith’s hooking penalty with 4.8 seconds left gave the Flyers one final man advantage in regulation — which they appeared to convert to win the game.
But Shayne Gostisbehere’s goal was waved off with 2 seconds left when Wayne Simmonds was whistled for goalie interference for jumping into Mrazek.
“He jumped and hit my head on the left side,” Mrazek said. “I felt it and I went down. It was a good call by the referee.”
Mrazek was sensational during a 1 minute, 36 second two-man Flyers advantage midway in the third period, keeping the score 1-1.
Mrazek made two great saves on Voracek, including a glove save that provided the exclamation point on the penalty kill.
“He had some chances, some shots there, but too bad he scored in the shootout,” Mrazek said.
Neuvirth then did his part at the other end, making a key save on Riley Sheahan, who was open between the hashmarks.
That failed Flyers power play equaled the Red Wings’ not converting during a five-minute power play early in the first period after the Flyers’ Ryan White was ejected for a head shot at Tomas Jurco.
“You have to find a way to get a goal or two there,” said Niklas Kronwall, who scored the lone Red Wings goal. “It’s a great opportunity, a great chance to get ahead, but we didn’t take advantage of it.
“Huge kill (in the third period), obviously, a big moment of the game.”
The Flyers tied it early in the third period on Giroux’s 13th goal.
Voracek skated down wing, got deep into the zone, and centered a pass to Giroux who snapped a shot that struck the inside of the post and past Mrazek.
The Red Wings took the game’s first lead with Kronwall’s goal late in the second period.
Kronwall snapped a shot from near the dot that glanced off the body of Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas and over Neuvirth.
The Flyers challenged the goal, claiming goalie interference. Gudas and Darren Helm tangled in front of the crease, but neither touched the blue paint.
Helm's backside, though, did collide with Neuvirth’s glove, which the Flyers felt was enough to negate the goal.
But the goal stood, Kronwall’s third of the season, which finally broke the ice in the tight game at 18:25 of the second period.
Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk earned assists on the play. For Datsyuk, it stretched a streak of earning a point on the previous six Red Wings goals.
“He’s been playing out of his mind lately,” Kronwall said. “We’re lucky to have him on our side.”