Coming off a convincing 5-3 victory over the lowly Calgary Flames, the Philadelphia Flyers seem to be stabilizing. Michael Raffl appears to have brought balance and chemistry to the Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek pairing. Nick Cousins, while not an ideal fit centering the second line between Wayne Simmonds and Travis Konecny, brings an element of speed and a bit of skill in Sean Couturier’s absence. And these new top-six combinations evened out the third and fourth lines, with Brayden Schenn returning to his natural pivot position, creating the ability for head coach Dave Hakstol to more confidently role four lines heading into a national television showdown with the Boston Bruins.
Missing Zdeno Chara and John Michael-Liles, Boston’s blueline was light coming into the game, giving Philadelphia’s third-ranked scoring offense (3.13 goals/game) its best chance to beat Tuukka Rask, the Bruins’ superstar goaltender who ranks near the top of the league in save-percentage (.940), GAA (1.63) and wins (12; yay wins!).
Struggling to score goals (2.36/game; 24th in NHL) and facing off against Steve Mason, a netminder with a sub-.900 save-percentage, the Bruins enabled the strategy of throwing anything and everything at the net, shooting from everywhere in the first and directing 19 pucks (on 28 attempts) on Mason in the opening twenty minutes. Mason, however, was up to the task.
The Flyers, despite coming in to the contest averaging the second-most shots on net per game in the league, were more selective. Halfway through the game shots were 24-12 in favor of Boston. However, Philadelphia piled up several high-danger chances in the first, capitalizing on traffic in front of Rask to take the 1-0 lead on a Michael Del Zotto point shot, and extending the lead to 2-0 on a power play goal by Giroux, ending his nine-game goalless drought.
Mason’s effort was the highlight of the night for the orange and black, turning away an early scoring chance with a kick save and never looking back, stymying the Boston bombardment for much of the night. Mason’s 44 saves included a short-handed try by an unchecked Patrice Bergeron in the slot, preventing what could have been a league-leading seventh short-handed goal against on the year for the Flyers.
The first goal he allowed was on a Boston power play, a knuckling puck that Mase looked to get a piece of with his waffle board, but couldn’t slow its momentum enough from finding the back of the net. Boston tied the game in a 4-on-4 situation following a tripping minor to Cousins and a questionable embellishment call against David Pastranak.
Raffl continued to look strong as the top-line’s left winger, as Giroux and Co. appeared to be on the attack much of the night. Raffl nearly cashed in with his second goal in as many games on a sweet tic-tac-toe play, similar to the one that resulted in Voracek’s lucky bounce goal against Calgary, that left Rask completely out of position, but Raffl was unable to convert on the back end, simply missing on the tap-in on an empty net. Still, more offensive zone time and chance-generation for first line, which is a great sign moving forward.
Voracek had a chance to give his team the lead when he drew a penalty shot following a strong pass from Giroux, but Rask was up to the task.
Even Andrew MacDonald got in on the action. On top of drawing a couple of penalties, he seemed more aggressive, especially in the neutral zone and at the point, stepping up on several occasions to deny puck-carriers easy exits from their own end.
The third period was a serious problem for the Flyers, as they bled chances and couldn’t stop Boston from tying the game within the first six minutes of action. They’d played bend-but-don’t-break defense all night, and Mason was unable to hold the Bruins off the board.
The tied score seemed to wake the Flyers up as they went back on the attack midway through the third, and with 6:36 got a power play opportunity on a what could have been a number of calls against Brad Marchand, but were unable to convert.
The Flyers own penalty kill continued to show signs of life, killing off all four of Boston’s chances, including a tripping minor against Travis Konecny with under four minutes left in regulation, and held off one final push by the B’s to send the game to 3-on-3 overtime.
The Flyers just weren’t able to find their shot in overtime, and Mason continued his stellar effort making five huge saves in the extra frame, where tensions were extraordinarily high, with several scrums in front of Mason, eventually resulting in Simmonds and Marchand being penalized for matching roughing minors with 1:07 left. Neither team was able to end the game in OT, so we got a skills exhibition to award the extra point in the standings.
- Cousins went backhand glove side and was denied.
- Ryan Spooner lost his edge trying to cut on Mason in close and never got his shot.
- Giroux used his slow down, speed up move and lost his handle, allowing Rask to poke check.
- Riley Nash missed over Mason’s glove.
- Simmonds went five hole and Rask didn’t open up.
- Bergeron seemed to have Mason beat to his stick side, but lost control.
- Konecny beat Rask on the glove side after a fake, but Rask deflected the puck off the post.
- Mason made a ridiculous sprawling save on Pastranak.
- Voracek cut right and beat Rask five hole with a shovel-shot.
- Marchand came in with speed and scored backhand over the blocker.
- Roman Lyubimov was stoned on a backhand-forehand deke.
- David Krejci missed wide.
- Brayden Schenn took a quick snapper that Rask swallowed.
- Jimmy Hayes deked to his backhand and got Mason down but couldn’t finish.
- Matt Read came in slowly and tried to out-wait Rask, but to no avail.
- Torey Krug rang a backhander off the crossbar over Mason’s blocker.
- Shayne Gostisbehere popped the puck over Rask’s glove to give the Flyers the lead.
- Mason gloved a David Backes attempt to win the game.
Raffl on the doorstep..... wide. pic.twitter.com/fa5eZx6XYO— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
Why was Lyubimov scratched so long again? pic.twitter.com/YcYGA5ZABT— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
4 on 2 odd man rush? Not a problem for Ivan Provorov pic.twitter.com/Zy8ZACKbvq— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
BUT STEVE MASON IS BAD!? pic.twitter.com/HstCXEXZ66— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
Now that looks more like the Del Zotto of seasons past! pic.twitter.com/MZIyGjeOFJ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
Claude Girwho? The Captain scores for the first time in nine games pic.twitter.com/fbxJqXejWL— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
This was disgusting, Travis Konecny pic.twitter.com/VQrrmWcAjT— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
Andrew MacDonald draws a penalty, continuing his very solid game.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016
Andrew MacDonad is good. pic.twitter.com/t5ZeDG8mMq
STEVEYYYYY MASON pic.twitter.com/B1F4Tvlc7R— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 30, 2016