By their own admission, the entire Boston Bruins organization was reeling this week.
From team owner Jeremy Jacobs right on down to the players themselves, the Bruins truly believed they had added Jarome Iginla to their stable for the playoffs, only to find out he was headed to Pittsburgh after being told a deal was done.
Imagine how they feel right now after losing to the beleaguered Flyers, who have far more reasons to feel despondent these days than Boston.
What probably looked like an easy two points in the standings to Claude Julien’s Bruins backfired Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center as the Flyers stunned the Bruins, 3-1.
“It was one of those things we needed here,” said Matt Read, who scored the game-winner. “To play one of the top teams in the NHL well and I think we played a solid 60 minutes. It was a huge two points for us.”
Start to finish, this was a physically and emotionally-charged game for both teams.
Peter Laviolette’s club genuinely competed hard, throwing their limited weight around for a club gutted right now on the blue line.
Had this compete level been applied to the Rangers and Islanders games for three periods we would have seen a couple of Flyers victories that would have dramatically changed their playoff picture.
“This was one of our best games,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “We made sure we played 60 minutes of hockey.
“Obviously, Bryz [Ilya Bryzgalov] made some key saves for us, but we were pretty responsible defensively. We need to play more games like this, it was pretty fun, too.”
The energy in this one can be traced to 40-year-old Mike Knuble, whose tireless hard work on the boards seemed to rub off on the rest of the Flyers.
“You watch him in practice he has such a solid, strong stick and a good shot,” Scott Hartnell said.
“I think it rubs off when a veteran guy like that does that, that’s why Homer got him here. I’m glad they’re using him and he’s getting minutes and making them count.”
Like the Islanders game, the Flyers had a 2-0 lead. Unlike it, they carried that lead into the third period.
Although Ruslan Fedotenko flubbed an empty-net rebound that would have made it, 3-0, he later got one with Tuukka Rask pulled to ice it.
By then, Nathan Horton had made a one-goal game at 5:00 with a gift of a rebound in the paint after Bryzgalov faced a sequence of five shots in succession.
Bryz was terrific with 33 saves but declined to talk after the game.
“Bryz played a great game and we scored when we needed too,” Jakub Voracek said.
Despite a depleted defense without Nick Grossmann, Braydon Coburn or Andrej Meszaros, the Flyers got a huge lift from Bryzgalov in the opening period as he stoned the Bruins.
“I thought it was a really good game,” Laviolette said. “Guys did a good job, played a smart game that started in the offensive zone and even through the neutral zone just made it difficult in the defensive zone.
“Lot of shots came from the outside. Bryzgalov made some big saves when we needed him, but I think the guys out front played very well.”
Among the 12 early shots he faced, several were of the difficult variety, including three good chances from David Krejci.
And for the second game in succession, Knuble, getting another chance to play, scored, this time on the power play.
Knuble banged home his fourth goal of the season from the slot off a Brayden Schenn pass for a 1-0 lead at 15:19.
The Flyers have the No. 1 power play in the NHL (24.8 percent). Now if they could just score five-on-five maybe they would be sitting as the eighth seed right now.
“You have to give Mike a lot of credit for sitting and coming in and being an impact player in both games,” Laviolette said. “Today, I thought he was really strong with his skating and on the puck. It was really difficult to get the puck from him.
“He did a lot of the grunt work in the corners and the offensive zone. Their line maintained a lot of offensive zone time and a lot of positions down the there. I think for the last two games they’ve been a really strong line for us.”
A couple of strong early shifts to open the second period had Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask’s head on a swivel and resulted in the Flyers second goal at 3:18.
This time, it was an odd-man rush up the ice with Read and Voracek. Read took a laser pass from the right boards, used Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk as a screen, and beat Rask, making it 2-0.
And this time, the Flyers didn’t fold in the final period and actually have some positive momentum for Washington on Easter Sunday.
“It’s nice to get two points and this is a time to take care of business on the ice and scoreboard watch when you are at home,” Hartnell said.
“Hopefully, there are some teams who can help us out along the way. Way we played tonight, we got to do it again tomorrow.”