Minnesota winger Charlie Coyle was inches away from being the hero Thursday night. Late in the third period, with the Wild down 3-2, Coyle found space to the right of Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth and fired a puck on net. Coyle’s shot look destined for the back of the net, so much so that every Wild player on the ice began to celebrate, but those celebrations were premature.
Neuvirth stopped it, the referee waved his arms to signal no goal, Thomas Vanek was left shaking his head and not a single Minnesota player on ice could believe what just happened. Neuvirth, in a last ditch effort to stop the puck, flung his arms and stick toward the puck and somehow, someway managed to stop it from crossing the goal line. Just look at the disbelief on the Wild players’ faces:
In some situations, context helps make a save even better, and that Neuvirth made this save with next to no time left on the clock makes it an easy frontrunner for save of the year. Neuvirth’s interaction with Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu, though, has to be one of the best things we’ve seen all season. After the stop, Koivu was staring straight at Neuvirth, who simply nodded at Koivu. That about says it all.
With the win Thursday, Neuvirth improved his record this season to 14-7-4 and now boasts a 2.20 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. He’s played in each of the past five games for the Flyers, including four starts, and has a 3-1-1 record over that span, including a win in a relief appearance of teammate Steve Mason.