The Flyers are no longer the same team that was blown out by the Boston Bruins in January, and they proved it Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
The outcome, a 4-3 shootout loss, wasn’t exactly what they had hoped for. But the Flyers were happy with the effort they put in against the NHL’s best team – and the point they managed to gain from the game could help them as they trek on in their hunt for the playoffs (see Instant Replay).
“I thought our team competed real hard,” coach Craig Berube said. “They had an attitude today that they were going to go out and show ‘em something, and I thought that they did. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted, but we attacked and had a lot of pucks on net.
“We competed hard. You’ve got to compete real hard against that team, or you’ll be in trouble.”
The Bruins have lost only once in their last 16 games, and haven’t lost in regulation since March 1. When the Flyers faced them earlier this year, the Bruins won handily, 6-1.
On Sunday, though, the Flyers took control of the game from the opening faceoff. They took the early lead, too, thanks to Vinny Lecavalier’s 400th career goal at 5:25 of the first period.
Though ex-Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros tied the game 1-1 five minutes later, the Flyers didn’t fall back on their heels. They continued to dictate the pace of the opening period, and were rewarded when Kimmo Timonen restored the lead with just 42 seconds left.
“I think the guys worked extremely hard,” Steve Mason said. “We had over 50 shots on net. It shows the kind of pressure we were putting on them for the majority of the game. Right now they’re the No. 1 team in the league, and the guys were going toe to toe with them, and that’s a good sign.”
Some untimely calls by the game’s referees seemed to interrupt the Flyers’ flow a bit in the second period, and the Bruins were able to capitalize. Zdeno Chara scored on the power play to tie the game 2-2, and Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins their first lead of the afternoon moments later.
But the Flyers didn’t give in, as they have on other occasions this season. It was Lecavalier again who scored his second of the day after Mason was pulled in favor of the extra attacker late in the third period. By then, the Flyers had recaptured all of the game’s momentum, leading the Bruins 17-6 in shots through those 20 minutes of play. The 3-3 score held through overtime to force the teams to a shootout.
“You always want the two points, but I think we played a very good game,” Lecavalier said. “We got a lot of shots and a lot of opportunities. Rask made some really key saves for them. But yeah, we’re happy with that one point. We would have liked to get that second one, but we’ve got some big games coming up and every point’s important. So tonight, one point is important.”
In all, Mason stopped 27 shots in regulation. Across the ice, Tuukka Rask stopped an impressive 49. Reilly Smith’s goal proved to be the difference-maker in the shootout. Mason managed to stop three other Bruins’ shots.
The Flyers were, it’s important to note, the more rested team Sunday afternoon; the Bruins had played just 24 hours earlier against the Capitals in Washington. But that didn’t prevent the Bruins from playing the talented, physical team they are. The game wasn’t easy for either club.
As Scott Hartnell said, “everyone left everything out on the ice.”
“We battled hard to get that point,” Hartnell said. “And you never know – that point could be the difference between home ice and not."