BOSTON, MA – Who doesn’t love watching an “old-school” brand of hockey matchup? With grueling hits, physical play in all three zones, the occasional dropping of the gloves, and some elite skill sprinkled in, you have the ingredients of an entertaining, three-hour hockey game.
These are the events that took place at the TD Garden on Wednesday night, and that is usually the status quo when the Boston Bruins clash with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Entering Wednesday night, the Bruins were three days removed from a two-game road trip that gave the fans red-eye syndrome due to the 10 pm puck drops in each of the contests. They took the first game of the trip by knocking off the Colorado Avalanche, snapping their three-game losing streak to begin the year. That victory avoided the worst start in 50 years for the Black and Gold. On Saturday night against the Arizona Coyotes, Boston followed up with another solid road victory.
As for Philadelphia, this is a team that is currently learning to accommodate on the fly(ers). They have a new head coach in Dave Hackstol, they were without goaltender Steve Mason (personal reasons) for a handful of games, and the defensive core is playing at an inconsistent level despite a 2-2-1 record. Obviously, the kettle is calling the pot black with that final statement.
Bottom line? The Bruins possessed the capabilities to put the puck in the net against this team, especially with the Flyers being less than 24 hours removed from an intense contest with the Dallas Stars. Fans at the Garden—and those watching at home—had high expectations to hear the famous tank-like goal horn when things were all set and done.
Tuukka Rask (1-3-0, 4.29 GAA, .851 Save %) opposed Michal Neuvirth (2-0-0, 1.04 GAA, .964 Save %) in the goaltender matchup. Boston was coming into the game with the best power play in the NHL at 38.9%. How about that for a stat?
Boston donned the very attractive purple warm-up sweaters in honor of “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” at the Garden. Pretty great thing to see prior to puck drop.
In the first period, the Bruins allowed the Flyers to skate right through the defensive zone and get some good scoring chances on Rask. The transition game lacked the oomph needed to get anything productive going at the other end. Sure enough, Philly struck first on a put-back shot by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. The Bruins answered right back when Brett Connolly tied the game on a goal that looked similar to the opening score. It was one of those “right place, at the right time” sequences for the spirited winger. The tally was his first goal of the season.
Once the Flyers pulled ahead yet again, the power play came through for the Bruins and continued to remain scorching hot. Patrice Bergeron–who welcomed a baby into this world earlier in the afternoon–capitalized on the man advantage by deflecting home a shot from Loui Eriksson past Neuvirth. The game was tied at 2-2 after the first 20 minutes.
“It was a special moment for me scoring that goal,” said Bergeron. “It was a long, but exciting day so having that moment on the ice meant a lot to me.”
The B’s started the second period down one man because Zac Rinaldo received a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct as time expired in the first period. It was an unnecessary, yet cold-clocking hit. Devastating outcome, but reputation played a role in that decision.
When questioned about the hit, Bruins head coach Claude Julien uttered several times: “I respect the ref’s decision.”
Anyway, the Black and Gold dug themselves out of a hole and killed off the lengthy power play. Not only that, but they grabbed the lead on a short-handed tally from Chris Kelly. The energy was certainly amplified for the Bruins, something that they lacked to begin the game. Rask got a little bit of a breather in the second period since the B’s were able to buckle down defensively. Shots were 25-23 in favor of Philly after two, but Boston held a 4-2 lead after Jimmy Hayes netted his second goal of the year.
The B’s started the third period strong, but the Flyers tied the game on goals from Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds just minutes apart…both coming on giveaways. With that, the B’s experienced their first taste of three-on-three overtime this season…and their first defeat under the format. Despite salvaging a point, Giroux netted his second goal of the game to give the Flyers the 5-4 victory.
“We have to learn how to play with the lead,” said Rask. “It starts with me, but we need to play better overall.”
Bergeron, Eriksson, and David Krejci all recorded multi-point games.
With the loss, Boston now has pulled itself even further away from a .500 record and still looking to secure its first victory on home ice. The two points for Philadelphia snapped the team’s six-game losing streak against Boston.
“We played a light game and they battled harder,” said Julien. “We deserved what happened in this game. They were the better team.”
The B’s will play their next game on Friday night when they head to the Barclay’s Center to take on the New York Islanders.
Lineup for Wednesday, Oct. 21 vs. Philadelphia
Loui Eriksson-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo-Joonas Kemppainen-Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara-Kevan Miller
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid
Tommy Cross-Colin Miller
Side Notes: This was Brad Marchand’s second game back in the lineup. He missed two games earlier in the year due to a concussion…..Tyler Randell remained in the lineup after scoring a goal in each of his first two games as a Bruin…..Joe Morrow (flu) returned to the team after missing the last two games. He did not end up skating in this game…..Matt Beleskey missed this game due to an upper-body injury. He leads the team with 34 hits, but has only tallied one goal and one assist on four shots through five games…..Dennis Seidenberg started skating on his own at practice, but still is not close to returning from off-season back surgery.