By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Following a crushing 1-0 defeat to the New York Rangers, the Bruins traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers in the Wells Fargo Center. This was the second game of a back-to-back matinee weekend for the Bruins. The Bruins looked to get back in the win column while the Flyers were coming off a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders. As the playoffs were just two weeks away, the Bruins wanted to win this game to gain some ground on the Flyers, who were sitting atop the Eastern Conference. Tim Thomas would be the starting goaltender for Boston, and Brian Boucher would be the starting goaltender for the Flyers. Boston was still without Steven Kampfer, and now they were without Michael Ryder, who was listed as a healthy scratch, so he was probably getting some rest.
Rough Start for the B’s
The game was on, and Philadelphia came out skating faster than Boston, which led to getting early scoring opportunities on Tim Thomas. It didn’t take long for Philadelphia to take advantage as just 4:45 into the first, Kris Versteeg put the puck behind Tim Thomas with ease, and it was an early 1-0 Flyers lead. Five minutes later, the Bruins would get an opportunity to tie the game when Kris Versteeg was whistled off for holding, and Boston was put on the powerplay. However, Boston was struggling on the power play, too, and as the powerplay was winding down, Flyer Darroll Powe found himself on a shorthanded breakaway and almost put the Flyers ahead by two. Throughout the rest of the period, it just looked like Philly was the better team and that it was going to be a long night for the Bruins.
The Flyers had numerous chances to make it a 2-0 lead, one of those chances was with three minutes left in the period. Tomas Kaberle gave up the puck on his own blueline, and Flyer Blair Betts had a two-on-one chance against Tim Thomas. Thomas was able to bail Kaberle out, but this type of play needed to be fixed for the Bruins. Thankfully the horn shortly sounded, and Boston could finally get themselves together. Even though the box score showed both teams having 10 shots on the net, the Flyers were playing a much better game than the Bruins. If the Bruins wanted a chance to win this game, they had to protect the puck better and play like the “Big Bad Bruins” that they were supposed to be.
Nathan Horton Puts Boston on the Board
The second period was underway, and just like the first period, the Bruins could not protect the puck. 1:07 into the second, the Bruins gave up the puck in the neutral zone again, and Kris Versteeg had a breakaway opportunity on Tim Thomas. Thankfully, Tim Thomas was sharp tonight, and he made another spectacular save to keep the Bruins in the game. Six minutes later, the Bruins would get a break when Flyer Blair Betts was called off for tripping, and Boston would be on the powerplay.
Just four seconds into the powerplay, Nathan Horton finally put Boston on the board, and it was a 1-1 tie. Krejci and Kaberle were credited with the assists, and Boston looked to build some momentum. Throughout the rest of the period, Boston was outshooting the Flyers, but they couldn’t find the back of the net. The period quickly dwindled to 0, and it was tied 1-1 after two periods of play. Boston outshot Philly 14-7 and ended up playing a much better period than the first. Boston looked to carry the momentum into the final 20 minutes.
Brad Marchand Nets the Game Winner
As the third period got underway, both teams looked evenly paced and had an even number of shots on the net throughout the first five minutes. The Bruins encountered a scare around the five-minute mark when Johnny Boychuk ripped a slapshot off Bergeron’s skate, and Bergeron had to limp to the bench. Bergeron was in a lot of pain on the bench, and it didn’t look pleasing. However, the period continued, and both teams were still evenly paced. No action occurred in the period until with 4:27 remaining in the period when Mike Richards caught Tomas Kaberle up high with his stick and was whistled off for high-sticking.
This was an extraordinary opportunity for the Bruins to take a late lead and hopefully escape the Wells Fargo Center with a win. 44 seconds into the powerplay, Dennis Seidenberg lasered a slap shot off Brian Boucher’s pad, and Brad Marchand was able to tuck in the rebound to put Boston up 2-1. The Boston bench was on its feet cheering, and they were ecstatic. It was Marchand’s 20th goal of the season, and Boston looked to hang on and secure the win. As Philly desperately tried to tie the game, head coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout and discussed the strategy. Philly was not able to tie the game, and the Bruins ended up hanging on and winning 2-1.
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins for the Bruins, but a win is a win, and with how close the playoffs were, they would take it. The three stars of the game were Kris Versteeg, who had the only goal for the flyers; Tim Thomas, who stopped 27 shots and allowed just one goal; and Brad Marchand, who was able to net the game-winning goal. With Boston getting a much-needed win, it put them just six points behind the Flyers and were within reach with just seven games remaining on the schedule. Boston would gain more ground on the Flyers when they took on the Chicago Blackhawks on March 29th.