Saturday, March 09, 2013

Rask up to task as Bruins use strong first period to beat Flyers

Special to the Phanatic

Boston, MA -- Tuukka Rask turned back all 23 shots he faced to notch his second shutout of the season, and the Boston goaltender received three goals within a 2:18 span in the first period that lifted the Bruins to a 3-0 decision over the slumping Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden.

Rask became the fourth goaltender to blank the Flyers since the building opened in 1996, after Bill Ranford (2-0 on 11/26/96), Byron Dafoe (3-0 on 4/3/99) and Jeff Hackett (1-0 in OT 1/25/03).

The 25-year old Finn also turned in his first-ever whitewash of Philly in his first start against the franchise since Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"Really good. I think the best so far, this year. They did a great job," Rask said about the defense in front of him.

Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille all lit the lamp during Boston's scoring barrage, which in turn dealt the Flyers a third consecutive defeat that matched a season-high losing skid.

"I don't know if I can say it's back on track until I see it on a consistent basis," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien of his club's solid defensive effort.

Ilya Bryzgalov finished with 25 saves for Philadelphia, which opened the shortened 2013 campaign with setbacks to Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Jersey from Jan. 19-22.

The Orange and Black also dropped three straight from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 at Tampa Bay, the Rangers and Washington.

Hell Week, in which the club has failed to record a single point in three losses, officially concludes on Sunday night on home ice with a tilt against the Buffalo Sabres.

"We packed it in," said Scott Hartnell -- the same Hartnell who did his own version of a demolition derby during Friday's brief practice before travel to Boston.

As a result of that listless effort, the team held a closed-door meeting following the game, whose effects will only be known as the season rolls on.

"It's always good when you have a meeting," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "You want to make sure everybody's on the same page, and that's what we did."

Coming  off a  shaky outing Thursday against Pittsburgh in which he was pulled in  the second period,  Bryzgalov had a rough stretch in this one as well. The Philadelphia  netminder surrendered  goals on three straight shots that staked the Bruins to a commanding early lead they never relinquished.

The  first came  on a Boston power  play with 8:07 left in the opening period. After  the  Flyers failed  to clear  the zone following  a faceoff win, Seguin buried  the puck into an open left side after receiving a well-placed backhand feed from Milan Lucic.

Just  1:35 later, Kelly  made it a 2-0 game by ripping home a wrister from the slot off Jordan Caron's pass from the left boards, and a Philadelphia turnover caused  by Boston's  Shawn  Thornton  set up  a  2-on-1  rush between  Gregory Campbell  and Paille that resulted in the latter's fourth goal of the season a
mere 43 seconds after Kelly's tally.

Bryzgalov held his own the rest of the way, especially during an active second period  in which the  Bruins put 13 shots on net but failed to score. However, the  Philadelphia  offense continued to sputter  as Rask polished off his 13th career shutout.

The  Flyers' best scoring  opportunity came on a power play with just under 13 minutes left, when Jakub Voracek delivered a blast from the point that bounced off the right post. Braydon Coburn had a chance late in the contest after Rask left the net unattended while attempting to play the puck, but Lucic preserved
the shutout by making a sliding stop on the Philadelphia defenseman's attempt.

"After 1-0, we stopped competing," Philly head coach Peter Laviolette said "Up until that point, 10 minutes into the game, guys were playing hard. There wasn't a lot of room out there either way. They scored a goal and we never recovered. We never responded to it. We were looking for a response from last game and that wasn't the response we were looking for."

Notes: The Bruins upped their record to 11-0-1 on the season when recording the first goal, while  Philadelphia  fell to 3-10-1 when  allowing the opponent to score first...Boston's  Rich Peverley earned  his 200th career  point with an assist on Kelly's  goal...Caron was making his season debut after being called up from Providence of the AHL on  Friday, with the Bruins waiving forward Chris Bourque in a corresponding move...Philadelphia defenseman Andrej Meszaros returned to the lineup  for  the first  time since Jan.  24, having missed  the team's last 21 games  with  a dislocated  shoulder...The  Flyers  fell to  1-5-0  against Northeast Division foes this season...In defeat, the Flyers blocked 25 Boston shots and Eric Gustafsson led the way with five.
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