Bryzgalov earns first win in Anaheim since 2007
The last time Ilya Bryzgalov got a win in Anaheim, the Ducks were the only hockey team in California raising banners.
Back in Orange County again, in his same locker and everything, Bryzgalov recaptured his old form Friday night at the Honda Center in the Ducks’ 5-1 win over New Jersey.
"The team got two points with me," he said. "I’m now part of the team."
Bryzgalov didn’t exactly have too much work to do. the Ducks outshot the Devils 40-15 in one of the most outstanding defensive efforts of the season.
"We felt good out there," said defenseman Hampus Lindholm. "We blocked shots and didn’t give them too much. We know they’re a transition team, so we kept getting pucks deep and didn’t let them enter our zone easily."
The defense was more physical and less finesse. The Ducks swarmed the net and blocked 15 shots and delivered 25 hits. Matt Beleskey, who rarely drops the gloves, showed off his fighting skills he honed in junior hockey and delivered some bone-crushing hits along the boards, coming a goal shy of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick. Andrew Cogliano laid a few out too, in addition to setting up Jakob Silfverberg’s second-period goal.
It was a performance indicative of what kind of defensive-minded team the team can be against certain opponents.
"That’s what the Kings did to win the Cup," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "You let two goals in, you’re in every game. That’s what comes with good defense."
One reporter made a joke, asking Bryzgalov how he passed the time in the first two periods but he didn’t see much action Martin Havlat’s first-period power play goal. The Ducks dominated the possessions, generating an onslaught of offensive chances.
Defensively, the Devils were held to only a single shot in the second period. Bryzgalov could have been playing a card game back there and no one would have interrupted it.
"It’s tough because your body can kind of get cold when you’re not in the game," he said. "I tried to stay focused. I’ve been in this league for a while and I know how quickly things can change," You have to keep yourself focused during the game because you never know what’s going to happen."
There was a momentary surge by the Devils in the third. There was a point where it almost looked too easy for them to score and cut the Ducks’ lead to 3-2. Bryzgalov was flailing for a stick, swimming in the crease and nearly every Duck on the ice joined him in stalwart attempt to keep New Jersey from making it a one-goal game.
"The team played tremendously in front of me. They battled hard and made my job really easy." Bryzgalov postgame. https://t.co/P5GgttYq82
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) January 17, 2015
"We’re all together trying to keep the puck away from the net," Bryzgalov said. "I don’t know how, but we did it."
Bryzgalov and the defense earned a passing grade from their coach.
"I would have preferred that he ended up with nine shots on goal because that would have meant that we had been playing solid for 60 minutes," said Boudreau. "But when we have that little let down and he’s there to stop the puck it makes me have confidence in him and it makes the team have confidence in him."
As bad as Bryzgalov wanted this win, his team wanted it for him.
"My teammates, they played tremendously in front of me," Bryzgalov said. "They limited New Jersey’s chances and pretty much gave them nothing. What else can you ask for in a team?"