Saturday, March 07, 2015

Devil in the details as Bruins overcome Flyers in OT

Boston,  MA  -- When a team has to scratch and claw and scuffle every period of every game for every point possible in a playoff race, all the small things begin to add up.

In the end, Brad  Marchand proved to be the ultimate opportunist as he tied  the  game  late  in regulation  and scored  the winner  with 68  seconds left  in overtime  -- and the Boston  Bruins defeated  the Philadelphia  Flyers, 3-2,  in a  crucial Eastern Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.

Thanks  to  a Sean  Couturier turnover  in the neutral  zone, former Flyer Max Talbot  gained possession.  Marchand skated in down the left side, took a pass from  Talbot and  cut to the middle, then  sent a backhand on net that hit off defenseman  Michael Del  Zotto's skate and changed direction before fluttering past Steve Mason for the win.

Boston,  which  has beaten  Philadelphia in six  straight meetings, moved five points ahead of the Flyers for the final playoff spot in the East.

Zdeno  Chara  also scored for the  Bruins, Dougie Hamilton picked up two assists and Tukka Rask made 29 saves in the win.

Jakub  Voracek  and Chris VandeVelde  each tallied a  goal for the Flyers, who have recorded at least one point (2-0-2) in four straight games. Mason stopped 34 shots for Philadelphia. The Orange and Black hit the road again for a Sunday evening contest against the Devils in Newark.

The  Flyers put the pressure on Boston throughout the third period and finally cashed  in late.  Nick Schultz  sent a  shot on  net and  VandeVelde, who  was stationed  in front  of the crease, got a  piece of the puck as it trickled in past Rask with 4 1/2 to play.

Then came the first ripple on the frozen pond. Wayne  Simmonds  was whistled  for a  questionable tripping penalty in the neutral zone while trying to battle for a puck against the slight Daniel Paille with  2:03 left.

The Bruins pulled Rask to gain an extra man on  the power play, and Mason came up with two quick saves to keep the score in his team's favor. However, on a right-circle faceoff, Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux went to the ice, and either Loui Eriksson or Giroux pushed the puck back to the point.

It found a waiting Hamilton, whose rising shot found the shaft of Marchand's stick in front for an improbable deflection and game-tying score with 14.1 seconds left.

"I  thought we did a good job killing it down to 20 seconds there," VandeVelde said of the power play. "It's crushing."

Moments  before  Marchand's game-winner, Voracek  skated in on a breakaway but Rask  got just  enough of the puck to  send it wide of the right post and keep the game tied.

Ryan White went to the penalty box for hooking early in the opening period and Boston  made the Flyers  pay. The puck was cycled back to Chara, who wristed a puck  on  net that  found its way  through a few  players and squeaked between Mason's pads to open the scoring at 7:07.

Talbot  nearly scored for the Bruins moments later, but Mason sprawled out and just got his stick on the puck to keep it a one-goal game.

Philadelphia evened the score midway through the second with a power-play goal from  Voracek. Rask  allowed a Mark Streit  rebound to kick out into the right circle  where Voracek picked  up the loose puck and snapped it home for his 20th of the season.

Notes: Giroux recorded his 43rd assist of the season ... Marchand has scored 20-plus  goals in four  of the last five seasons ... He became the first member of the Bruins to score a tying goal inside a minute left in regulation and an OT winner in the same game since Rick Middleton did so in a 4-3 Bruins win over the Kings on Mar. 1, 1984 ... Boston went 2-for-4 with the man  advantage ...  Voracek reached the 20-goal mark for the third consecutive season  ...  The Flyers'  six losses in  a row against  the Bruins marks their
longest  stretch  of futility against  their rivals since dropping 15 straight from Oct. of 1970 through Dec. of 1972.
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