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Michal Neuvirth wins rehab start with Phantoms, 7-3; may play Sat. for Flyers

Goalie Michal Neuvirth will have a rehab start for the AHL's Phantoms on Wednesday. He played in just one preseason game after suffering an injury in training camp.

Michal Neuvirth appeared in just one preseason game for the Flyers, and just 22 games last season.
Michal Neuvirth appeared in just one preseason game for the Flyers, and just 22 games last season.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

For often-injured goalie Michal Neuvirth, the quest to remain healthy started Wednesday in Hartford.

Neuvirth, who was in the Phantoms' lineup while on a conditioning stint, stopped 31 of 34 shots as Lehigh Valley whipped Hartford, 7-3, in an AHL matchup.

Neuvirth, 30, could play for the Flyers as soon as Saturday against the visiting New York Islanders.

Injuries limited him to 22 games with the Flyers last season, and he had hip surgery in the offseason. On Sept. 21, Neuvirth suffered an apparent groin injury in training camp. He played in just one preseason game.

"I'm trying to stay positive and keep working hard," Neuvirth said before joining the Phantoms.

In Wednesday's game, Neuvirth allowed two goals on rebounds and another on a tip-in. The Phantoms built a 4-0 first-period lead and coasted to the victory.

"I felt good. Big win for us," Neuvirth told Inside AHL Hockey after the game. "The guys played really well in front of me  — score three quick goals, that helps a lot.  I was just trying to play my game and just tried to approach it like it was the NHL."

Added Neuvirth: "It was a good test. I'm going from here (to Boston)," where the Flyers play Thursday.

You can argue that Neuvirth, when healthy, is the Flyers' best goalie. He had a 2.60 GAA and .915 save percentage last season.

>> READ MORE: The Flyers' early-season identity? Don't ask.

Neuvirth said he feels 100 percent healthy.

"I would love to," he said Tuesday when asked if he hoped to soon be playing a lot with the Flyers. "I'm practicing well and working hard off the ice and believing it's going to pay off.

"I'm trying to stay positive and focusing on my game and worrying about the puck, and whatever happens happens," he said. "For me, what's most important is that my family's healthy."

The Flyers could use a healthy Neuvirth. Their goaltenders have the league's worst save percentage (.864).

When Neuvirth returns, the Flyers (4-5) will have to decide whether to keep three goalies or place Cal Pickard on waivers. They will play in Boston (5-2-2) on Thursday.

Brian Elliott (3.59 GAA, .882 save percentage) and Pickard (4.75, .833) have struggled over the first nine games. Then again, so has the team's overall defense.


Chris Conner scored a pair of goals and Greg Carey had three points to pace the Phantoms (4-2-1)….German Rubtsov contributed a goal and an assist.

>> READ MORE: Flyer legend Danny Briere finds new life in Portland, Maine