Saturday, March 07, 2015
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.