Back in December, the Philadelphia Flyers began to establish a reputation as a third period team, capable of improbable comebacks and unlikely wins. Recently, the pendulum has started to swing the other way.
Though a Wayne Simmonds tally in the third period tied the contest at 2-2, Brett Connolly was able to deflect a point shot past Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth with only 1:54 left, giving the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Flyers. Simmonds scored twice for Philadelphia, while Neuvirth made 28 saves. Tuukka Rask earned the win for the Bruins, and stopped 34 of 36 shots.
After two strong early shifts from Claude Giroux's unit and the newly-formed line of Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Brayden Schenn, it looked like the Flyers were establishing their presence. But an offensive zone penalty by Raffl four minutes into the first period put a halt to all progress. Boston's deadly power play quickly capitalized on Philadelphia's lack of discipline, as Patrice Bergeron corralled a loose puck in the slot and slipped it under Neuvirth to put the Bruins in front.
Following the power play, Boston kept up the pressure in all three zones. In particular, the Flyers had serious trouble taking full advantage of their entries into the Bruins' end, too often coming up completely empty in terms of extended attack time. Boston didn't look particularly dangerous either, but they were content to rely on the power play to deliver the majority of the damage. A Michael Del Zotto slashing penalty gave the Bruins yet another opportunity with the man advantage late in the period, and again, Boston made the Flyers pay. This time it was Bergeron's partner-in-crime Brad Marchand who did the honors, ripping a one-timer past Neuvirth to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
The Flyers turned things around in the second. After getting doubled up in shots on goal during the first twenty minutes, Philadelphia responded and peppered Tuukka Rask with 15 shots in the second period with the help of four power play opportunities. Boston was able to prevent a deluge of goals during all of that shorthanded time, but they weren't going to keep Wayne Simmonds completely silent. After Shayne Gostisbehere prevented a clear at the point and wristed a shot on goal, Brayden Schenn was able to flip the rebound over to Simmonds, who directed the puck into the wide open net.
With the score 2-1, Philadelphia continued to push for the equalizer throughout the period, but Rask kept his team in the lead. It was Simmonds again who came closest to tying the game, one-timing a pass from Voracek from the left faceoff circle only to be denied by an acrobatic save from the Bruins goaltender. Regardless of Rask's heroics, the Flyers had served notice that their push would extend into the third period. But a late penalty from Mark Streit would force Philadelphia to face the ever-dangerous Bruins power play to start the final stanza, needing a stop to keep the deficit manageable.
Boston's power play was buzzing the start the third, but they failed to generate anything in the way of serious scoring chances, as the Flyers dodged a bullet. Given a chance to continue their comeback, Philadelphia tilted the ice in the right direction immediately after the kill, sending wave after wave of pressure in on Rask. It was the Giroux line that led the way, and it would rightfully be the Giroux line that tied the contest. Jakub Voracek sent a shot in on Rask and Simmonds was there to clean up the trash. The Wells Fargo faithful were forced to hold their collective breaths, however, as an extended review tried to determine whether Michael Del Zotto had entered the zone offsides prior to the goal. With the evidence deemed inconclusive, the crowd was permitted to go into a frenzy as their team tied the game. Unfortunately, it only set them up for more heartbreak.
Comment of the Night:
I am still debating watching the Flyers or the X-Files.
On one hand there’s a proud tradition from the late 90’s with questionable personnel decisions that has some positives (like a sexy ginger) but is mostly kind of mediocre that I am watching largely out of nostalgia. The other option is the X-Files.