Ilya Bryzgalov couldn’t have asked for a better return. He pitched a shutout against the Nashville Predators in his first NHL start since April 25. He had come in to relieve Devan Dubnyk on Monday against the Chicago Blackhawks and performed well enough. This 33-save shutout has the Edmonton Oilers abuzz though, and for good reason.
They haven’t been receiving goaltending like this on a nightly basis, and that has been a big reason for the team’s poor record to this point.
It was an eventful contest for Bryzgalov, who saw a little bit of everything happen in front of him after spending so much time away. Shea Weber took a puck to the face not three feet away from his crease, and Bryzgalov even got in on the physicality of the contest himself when he put a hit on Viktor Stalberg early in the third period.
Talk about adding insult to injury. Not only did “Bryz” stop everything that the Predators threw at him, but he also managed to plant the 6-foot-3, 209 pound Stalberg like it was nothing.
Maybe the netminder spent some time over the last few months watching Tim Thomas highlights. The strong play behind the net seems like something the feisty American would try on any given night.
All in all, the Oilers have been pleased with Bryzgalov, and head coach Dallas Eakin spoke to reporters following the win about his new goalie:
Always like it when they don’t score. And he picked up right where he left off last game. I thought he was solid. He looked big in the net, everything. Check marks right across the page for him.