By Josh Mellits/DFP Staff
The last time the Philadelphia Flyers were in town, the Boston Bruins gave up a 3-0 lead and were eliminated from the postseason. And on Saturday night, the Bruins suffered another heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Flyers, losing in overtime, 2-1.
Captain Michael Richards gave the Flyers (19-7-5) a win with only three seconds left in the extra session. The Bruins (16-8-4) had entered the game six points behind Philadelphia and lost an opportunity to make up ground in the conference standings.
“I think we had an opportunity here tonight to get that extra point,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It was there for us for the taking, and it was unfortunate for us that it ended the way it did.”
The first period saw tight play on both sides as possession and momentum switched between both teams. But the game shifted five minutes into the second period when Flyers winger Jody Shelley pushed Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in a race for the puck for an icing call. McQuaid flew off his skates and slammed into the boards, nearly hitting headfirst and stayed down for several minutes.
“It was for icing, it would be different if I was even reaching for the puck,” McQuaid said. “My back was to the puck. I’m not really sure what happened to be honest with you…I’m not sure how hard it was. I guess I wasn’t ready to get hit in that situation.”
Even though McQuaid said he “just [had] knocked the wind out of me a little bit” and that it was not as bad as it could have been, Julien still believes the play was unnecessary.
“Personally, I didn’t think there was any need for it,” Julien said. “I don’t know what the intention was but certainly there was no need for that at all. That’s one of the things we’re trying to get out of our game… It’s uncalled for. Hopefully, the league deals with it in a proper way and we’ll go from there.”
Shelley was given a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct. Instead of galvanizing the Bruins, they only attempted five shots with the man advantage, wasting the opportunity to get on the board first.
Instead, with less than 2 minutes left in the period, Flyers winger and former University of New Hampshire star James van Riemsdyk scored on a three-on-two with winger Claude Giroux and center Jeff Carter.
“I saw it and knew it was going glove,” said Boston goaltender Tim Thomas. “But then I never got to see it again. It hit off my glove and went in.”
The physical play continued as almost 10 minutes into the third period, Bruins winger Nathan Horton collected a loose puck in front of the net and notched the equalizer to put the Bruins right back in the game.
“Nice pitch by [Bruins captain Zdeno Chara] to get the puck on the line to keep the puck alive, tried to make the pass to me and it got deflected,” Horton said. “[Bruins center David Krejci] got it to me and I just put it in the net.”
Despite giving up the lead and being outshot 25-16 in the second and third period, the visitors hung around, thanks to the strong play by backup goaltender Brian Boucher, who finished the game with 35 saves.
“We responded pretty well, we kept playing hard, we didn’t let it get out of control from there,” van Riemsdyk said. “We really buckled down and we were able to get a point out of it.”
In the extra session, it was all Philadelphia. The Flyers peppered Thomas with seven shots, including one moment where the puck lingered on the goal line before Thomas knocked it away. Yet the Bruins held on and the game seemed destined for a shootout.
But with seconds remaining, Richards beat Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg one-on-one before zipping the puck past Thomas on a wrist shot with three ticks left on the clock.
“When the game’s on the line, he’s definitely the guy you want to have the puck on his stick,” van Riemsdyk said.
The Bruins had been 4-0-1 in December and now hit the road at Buffalo and Montreal before coming back home December 18 against the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals. But they still know that this was one game that they let slip away.
“This was a game of inches and the smallest mistake would end up costing you,” Julien said. “And we made that mistake in the second period in the odd man rush a couple times…and then right at the end, another ill-advised play that ended up in our net.”
Before the game, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that Boston has traded forward Marco Sturm to Los Angeles for future considerations, pending a physical. Sturm was in his sixth season with the Bruins but has been on injured reserve all season stemming from a knee injury sustained in May against the Flyers in the postseason. The move helps clear cap space for Boston.
“It’s another player that’s given us some great service here over the years,” Julien said. “It’s unfortunate that he’s run into so many serious injuries that’s kind of knocked him out of the game for long stretches of time. And again, I think we could have used a player like him had it not been for the salary cap…He was a real good team player. He was respected by his teammates, respected by the coaching staff.”