PHILADELPHIA – The late Freddy Shero once started Bernie Parent in goal 37 straight games.
Then he went to Bobby Taylor.
When reporters asked him why he gave Taylor the start, Shero shrugged and said, “Because it was his turn.’’
Well, humor aside, it was sort of the same scenario in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Brian Elliott had started 16 straight games dating back to late November, partly because Michal Neuvirth had been injured, partly because the Flyers needed their most reliable goalie in net as they struggle to stay in the playoff race.
But every goalie needs a breather, so Neuvirth finally got his turn against the Sabres and he didn’t disappoint.
He stopped all but one of 31 shots, including a point-blank blast by Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart in the first period, leading the Flyers to a 4-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
Neuvirth has a history of getting hurt and this season has been no exception.
All Neuvirth can do is shake his head in frustration and hope his luck changes.
The Flyers are hoping so. They need two healthy goalies for the second half of the season.
Neuvirth mopped up for Elliott in Tuesday night’s 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh, so he did see some action since his last start on Nov. 28 against San Jose.
“I think playing the third period against Pittsburgh helped me a lot,’’ he said. “I was coming in more relaxed, I feel good.’’
He’s been through this before, so he knows from a mental standpoint how to handle the frustration.
“It’s a huge win for me, I haven’t been feeling good about myself lately,’’ he said. “It’s frustrating when you get injured and can’t help your teammates.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol knew Neuvirth was on his game after the Reinhart save.
“I think it’s a great way for him to go into the break,’’ Hakstol said. “It’s been a long time since he’s had the opportunity to start a game.
“For him to come in – I think back to that save he made in the first period – I thought that was a great way for him to say, ‘hey, I’m ready to step in and help this team.’+’’
Sean Couturier’s 23 goals moved him into fourth place in the NHL, pending evening action. . .Andrew MacDonald played in his 500th NHL game. . .The Flyers are off until 4 p.m. Friday when they will convene at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. for a practice before Saturday night’s game at New Jersey. Hakstol said he’s confident his players will do what’s necessary to keep their conditioning up during the break. . .The Flyers have scored four or more goals in each of their last five wins. . .The Flyers are now 4-2-2 in the second half of back-to-back games.