ILYA BRYZGALOV could not hold back any longer.
Last night, it did not matter if Bryzgalov was not the starter against Winnipeg.
It did not matter if the Flyers' brutally sloppy play, which put them in a 5-1 hole in the first 25 minutes, pressed him into service less than 24 hours after allowing five similar goals in Montreal.
It did not matter if Bryzgalov was to blame. He took it upon himself. Last night, after the Flyers finally succumbed to one last Jets' lead, Bryzgalov took himself out to the woodshed.
"I feel like I'm lost in the woods," Bryzgalov said. "I am totally lost. I don't know what's going on. I can't stop the puck. It's that simple. You can't ask any more from the forwards, they score eight goals and we're still losing.
"It's me. If you have terrible goalies, it's no surprise on why there were so many goals."
See, who said the Flyers had a goalie controversy heading into last night's game? Last night, the Flyers essentially played without one, as Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky combined to stop just 64 percent of their shots, as the Flyers somehow fell to the Jets 9-8 (!!!) in regulation.
Hey, SEGA NHL '95 called. It wants its score back. Last night was the NHL's highest scoring game leaguewide - in the regular season or playoffs - since Jan. 13, 1996.
Congratulations are in order for those who bet the over 5.5 combined puck line last night. Last night's pig at the Wells Fargo Center was the first time the Flyers allowed nine goals at home since an Oct. 23, 1993, loss to the same Winnipeg Jets.
The Flyers also tied a franchise record for most combined goals in a game.
"You won't win many games when you've got to score 10," coach Peter Laviolette said. "There's not one reason why we gave up nine goals tonight. It was a lot of different reasons. We've got to do a better job in our own end. We've got a lot of work to do."
For a while, last night's contest seemed like it had no chance to be a recordsetter. It was a near-replica of Wednesday night's depressing, 5-1, loss in Montreal, where the Flyers took an early lead and somehow coughed up five unanswered goals.
The same thing happened last night. Until something clicked with the Flyers.
The Flyers, who trailed 5-1 and 6-2 lead, made things interesting when they cut the lead to 6-4 on a goal by Max Talbot in the second period.
"It was a game with a lot of momentum swings," Talbot said. "It was definitely a weird game. We took the lead and then we tried to score four, five or six goals to come back. It was definitely not something you want to try to do."
Well, the Flyers did it anyway. They emerged from their dressing room after the second intermission, trailing 6-4, but soon held a 7-6 lead.
Like Winnipeg's edge, that soon evaporated as the Jets tallied twice in a span of 61 seconds in the third period to grab an 8-7 advantage. James van Riemsdyk scored with 3:39 remaining, his second of the game, to knot a wacky contest that appeared destined for a long shootout to decide a winner. Until Andrew Ladd scored with just 1:06 to play to put Winnipeg in line for its first road win in five tries.
The Flyers' valiant comeback meant little. And Bryzgalov simply couldn't forgive himself.
"I don't know what's going on," Bryzgalov said. "I thought the last game in Montreal, nothing worse would happen. This was even worse.
"I have zero confidence in myself right now. If you probably threw a [beach] ball instead of a puck, I still would not stop it. I am terrible. I want to apologize in front of the fans, in front of my teammates."
While his candor was likely appreciated by many, Bryzgalov's teammates quickly brushed off the notion he was at fault. The Flyers have lost four of their last five games, allowing a staggering 25 goals over that span.
"It's a team game," van Riemsdyk said. "You win as a team and lose as a team. You can't even pin a loss on one guy. There's a lot of tips, point-blank chances and plays where he had no chance. We've got to be better in front of him."
"I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before," Kimmo Timonen said. "I guess that means we've got a lot of work to do. That's not the way we're going to win games. You have to show up and play."
It's clear that Bryzgalov is struggling to cope with the pressure of playing in a new city with the phrase "$51 million man" attached to his name. Just eight games into his career in Philadelphia, he says this is the lowest point of his career.
The Flyers' play in front of him has prevented any sort of goalie controversy, but if there is any truth in Bryzgalov's words, fragile goaltenders don't exactly fare well in Philadelphia - no matter how much they make.
"Maybe that's why players have made more mistakes, because they have no confidence in their goalie - because this goalie is bad," Bryzgalov said. "I'm the reason why we lost the game tonight. Again."