DETROIT — The streak was not going to end on Anthony Stolarz’s watch.
Stolarz didn’t just help the Flyers extend their winning streak to nine games, he earned his first career shutout in the process.
Stolarz, 22, made 28 saves, shutting out the Detroit Red Wings in a 1-0 overtime victory at Joe Louis Arena Sunday evening.
“It’s exciting, that’s for sure,” Stolarz said. “I couldn’t have drawn it up any better and when you’re a kid dreaming of playing at Joe Louis Arena, it’s something you can’t even put into words. I’m excited, but I’m more excited to have the win streak going.”
Brayden Schenn scored the game-winner at 2:44 of overtime.
“He made some pretty great saves,” captain Claude Giroux said. “Obviously he was our best player out there tonight. He was great.”
The Flyers improved to 6-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Steve Mason had started 13 of the last 14 games so coach Dave Hakstol thought it would be a good opportunity for Stolarz to get a start.
“Mase has been going well,” Hakstol said. “I don’t think we’ve really overused Mase. I know he’s played a lot, but we watch closely. Today we felt like was a good day, after pretty heavy workloads for Mase, to have the day off and we knew that Stolie was ready. We have the confidence in him that he can come in and win a game, just like he did for us tonight.”
Stolarz was actually the one who started the streak, a 5-3 home win over the Calgary Flames on Nov. 27.
“He’s been amazing, very confident,” Jakub Voracek said. “He made a couple huge saves, especially on the penalty kill in the third period. It’s good for him and great game for us.”
Stolarz had to be good, especially on the penalty kill. The Wings went 0 for 5 on the power play.
“He was unbelievable tonight,” Schenn said. “I think PK, he did a great job, made a lot of saves in the third period especially. Shutout in The Joe for him, that’s obviously something you’ll remember. He played great for us, that’s what we need and he did the job tonight.”
It was in the third period that Stolarz made an important and telling save on a tipped shot by Tomas Tatar during the penalty kill.
“It kind of hit the guy and just fell in my glove,” Stolarz said. “But just being in the right position, I think from there on out, I kind of knew I was on and didn’t think anything was going to get by me.”
Stolarz found out Saturday that he would be making the start in Detroit.
“That’s the biggest thing for me is taking it day by day, just preparing and working hard. I think Dilly (goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh) wants me to have the approach every day you've got to come to work and work your tail off. I think I’ve done that and when the opportunity comes, you just have to be ready.”
Stolarz said working with Dillabaugh and goaltender development coach Brady Robinson has helped him since he was drafted in the second round, 45th overall, of the 2012 NHL draft.
“I used to be really scrambly when I was first drafted,” Stolarz said. “Working through the years, you kind of create a little patience in your game. I think working with Dilly and Brady has been huge. That’s one thing they preach is trying to be calm in the net and just letting the play come to you. When I do that, it’s a lot easier. I have a big frame so when I’m on, I’m in position and a lot of pucks just hit me right in the chest.”
Hakstol said Stolarz was solid from start to finish, giving the team just what it needed.
The winning streak that Stolarz started last month is now nine games and the Flyers have moved up to fourth in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s huge.” Stolarz said. “You look at it, you don’t want to give away any points. Looking at nine in a row, it’s huge. It keeps us climbing up.”