Flyers Surprise Bruins 5-2

Published on April 24th, 2013

By Anthony Mingioni

On an emotional evening celebrating the resilience of the city of Boston in the wake of last week’s Marathon bombings, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to play the role of spoiler on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Spurred by the goaltending of Steve Mason and a rock solid performance by an unheralded defensive unit, the Philadelphia Flyers welcomed back Jaromir Jagr and his playoff bound Boston Bruins 5-2.

Philadelphia got on the board early when winger Scott Hartnell picked off an errant clear by Bruins’ center David Krejci, skated into the slot and fired a quick wrist shot that beat goaltender Andrei Khudobin a mere 1:40 into the contest.

The Bruins replied minutes later when they put on intense pressure in Philadelphia’s zone and began cycling the puck.  As Jagr picked up the puck near the slot, he fired a shot that Mason scrambled to stop. The ensuing scramble would see defenseman Wade Redden get a rebound just past the goal line to tie the game at one.

Boston was unable to sustain consistent pressure from that point until the end of the period and seemed to really slow down after a hellacious shoulder to shoulder hit by defenseman Luke Schenn on bruising Bruins forward Milan Lucic.

It’s not often that Lucic is on the business end of a hit like that and in many ways the game seemed to turn on it.

“Luke has been physical and a steady force,” Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “It was he and Kimmo that were the two staples back there that were keeping everything together, then we lost Kimmo so now it’s down to Luke. The other guys are off right now and not available to us so Luke has continued to do what he’s done all year which has been being a physical force for us blocking shots, logging a lot of minutes playing against big players on the other team and he’s done a nice job.”

Boston extended to a 17-9 shot margin during the second period, but with the exception of a few scrambles in front, many of their chances were coming from the perimeter.

Following a scrap between Jay Rosehill and Boston’s Sean Thornton, the Flyers managed to work in a two on one rush with forward Brayden Schenn cutting into the offensive zone with authority and firing a shot that Khudobin had to adjust to stop.

Philadelphia continued their pressure as Wayne Simmonds got hold of the puck and fired a shot that Khudobin stopped but rebounded out to Brad Marchand.

The puck deflected off him and Flyers’ forward Matt Read had the presence of mind to make an impressive scoring play by batting the puck out of midair into the net, giving Philadelphia a 2-1 lead.

“I have no clue how that happened, just straight luck I guess,” Read said after the game. “The puck just bounced and I just swung and I don’t know how that even went in the net.  I didn’t have much room.  I hope it hit the ice and bounced in but I’ll take it.”

A mere seven second later, defenseman Oliver Lauridsen dumped the puck in from the red line and it came around the boards to Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The big Slovak’s clearing attempt rolled hard off his stick and somehow deflected off Khudobin into the net, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead off the fastest goal sequence in team history.

It may not have been the way the big Danish defenseman imagined scoring his first NHL goal, but he took it in stride.

“In 20 years or a week from now no one is going to ask me how that went in. It’s a bounce; it wasn’t a well calculated snipe or anything. It’s not much different from when you take a shot from the point and it hits three different shin pads and goes in. Hockey is a game of inches and bounce; you see it all the time.”

Chara explained what exactly happened on that strange play.

“Yeah, I was trying to push it behind. The puck was stuck on the board. Tried to you know, flip behind the net to my D partner and just took a weird bounce.”

Khudobin was unquestionably caught by surprise by the bounce and mistakenly turned his stick, leading the puck to deflect in.

“Yeah, sometimes it happens.  I just didn’t want to…it pretty much turned my stick. I could have just let it go but it would have been right in front. I didn’t want that to happen. That’s why I turned my stick way too much. Just keep my stick on one end.  Not much I can say about it. It was a bad rebound.”

Khudobin was pulled by Bruins’ coach Claude Julien and replaced by regular starting goaltender Tuuka Rask.

After that, Philadelphia maintained their defensive composure despite their patchwork blueline unit and it became evident as the end of the second period approached that the Bruins were playing out of sorts.

Between that and Mason’s excellent anticipatory game (37 saves on 39 shots), the Flyers entered the third period playing relatively confident hockey as they kept the majority of the Bruins chances to the outside.

Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette has been impressed by what he’s seen of the young goaltender.

“He’s been pretty good for us since he’s been here. I think you start to see things just in practice or in games. I mentioned it before, you see his glove. He’s got a really good glove. That kills a lot of plays when there’s no rebounds and he catches things. You see his puck skills and his ability to move pucks out of our end, or to a defenseman, or up to a winger. You see his athleticism when he makes a save and he’s able to get over to another position to make another save. So I think you start to see things in his game that are really positive.”

Eventually, the Bruins lack of defensive commitment proved to be their undoing as Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux found winger Jake Voracek streaking into the offensive and put the puck right on his stick for a breakaway. The Czech winger got Rask to open his pads slightly and deposited a nifty backhander into the net.

Boston managed to pull the contest to within two when Krejci got the puck off the boards, skated in using a Flyers defenseman as a screen & wristed the puck high blocker side, but the Flyers set the final marker with another good pass by the Flyers’ captain to veteran winger Simon Gagne who shot the puck before Rask could set himself.

The Flyers will conclude their home schedule on Thursday night when the playoff bound New York Islanders visit for a 7:05 start.

Flyers Steve Mason was strong in net | Source:  Andrew King

Flyers Steve Mason was strong in net | Source: Andrew King

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