The Philadelphia Flyers visited the Boston Bruins on Monday night at TD Garden to kick off the first leg of their home-and-home series with the Bruins. The Flyers entered tonight’s game five points out of the final playoff spot in the East Division, which is currently occupied by the Bruins.
Philadelphia has struggled against Boston all season long but battled hard to finally defeat the Bruins 3-2 in overtime for their first win in six matchups against them this year. This was also Philadelphia’s first win at TD Garden since November 10th, 2019.
The first period opened with very little offense in the way of shots on goal but both teams had some quality chances that were denied. Boston’s Dan Vladar and Philadelphia’s Brian Elliott each stood tall for their clubs as the game unfolded early on.
Philadelphia would finally break the ice with 9:45 to play in the period after a seemingly harmless Ivan Provorov wrist shot bounced its way off of Claude Giroux’s stick and on net. Travis Konecny pounded home the loose rebound past Vladar for a 1-0 Flyers lead. The Flyers’ puck luck earned Konecny his eighth goal of the year and his first goal in 13 games.
After Philadelphia’s opening tally, the Bruins tried to respond and had a couple good scoring chances, including a shot that rang iron past Elliott but stayed out. Boston would continue to charge at the Flyers despite them having their own opportunities to create offense.
The Bruins would finally capitalize after a Philadelphia mishap with the puck resulted in a Karson Kuhlman snipe that whizzed past the glove of Elliott, off the post, and into the net and the Bruins would even the game up at one goal apiece with 2:27 to go in the opening frame. Phil Myers threw the puck up ice, along the far boards and Jake Voracek could not corral the puck. This led to a Boston takeaway inside the blueline and the subsequent goal by Kuhlman off of a pass from Charlie Coyle.
The Flyers would get their first crack at a penalty kill opportunity with 41.9 seconds to play after Shayne Gostisbehere got his stick into Brad Marchand’s legs and hauled him down for the penalty. Thankfully, Philadelphia’s penalty kill unit would hold the Bruins’ power play off the scoresheet to close out the first period and Boston would have 1:19 remaining on the man advantage as both teams headed to their respective dressing rooms for the first intermission.
When the second period opened up, the Flyers could not hold off the Bruins’ power play anymore as Patrice Bergeron gave Boston a 2-1 lead just 46 seconds in off a deflection from a beautiful feed into a slot by David Pastrnak. Bergeron beat Elliott on the forehand, past the left pad to score his 12th goal of the season.
Philadelphia would earn a power play of their own just less than two minutes after allowing the power play goal after Jeremy Lauzon was called for holding against Nolan Patrick. The Flyers had plenty of prime chances, including two point-blank one-timers from Giroux and Konecny but Vladar robbed them each and Boston would kill off Lauzon’s minor.
The Flyers would earn another power play just 1:58 after their previous opportunity with the man advantage ended, as Pastrnak was sent to the penalty box for hooking on Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Philadelphia could not generate anything substantial against the top penalty kill in the league and the score would remain at 2-1 in favor of the Bruins as the penalty wound down.
After a nice stretch of even strength hockey and a bevy of icings, the Flyers would head back to the penalty kill with 6:40 to play in the middle stanza. Justin Braun was the guilty party on a hooking call against Coyle and one of the Flyers’ best defensemen as of late had to sit for two minutes.
Philadelphia would kill off the penalty and Braun wound up with a rare breakaway after he served his minor, but Vladar held him off with a spectacular save to keep the Bruins ahead.
Both teams would go back and forth to no avail as the teams would enter the second intermission at a 2-1 score in favor of the Bruins. The Flyers would have 20 more minutes to figure things out and turn this game around.
Philadelphia could not get things going early on as the third period began. Boston controlled the majority of play for the first five minutes or so, but the Flyers did earn themselves some offensive zone time and were rewarded for their work with a power play. Lauzon was whistled for his second holding penalty of the night, this time against Michael Raffl.
Sean Couturier would finally end the Flyers’ power play woes with 13:04 to play in the third as he received a pass from Kevin Hayes and fired an absolute bullet that eluded Vladar’s glove through light traffic and Philadelphia finally evened the score at 2-2.
After Couturier’s 11th goal of the year, the Flyers immediately found new life and spent an extended shift in the Bruins’ zone, wearing their defenders down and forcing Vladar to make some timely saves to keep the game tied. Philadelphia had found their groove and they were looking for their next opportunity to pounce.
Despite their hard play and some grade-A chances, the Flyers could not take the lead and after a hard-fought third period, tonight’s game would head to overtime. This was the third time this year the Flyers and Bruins would play past 60 minutes.
Travis Sanheim almost won it early in the extra frame with a nifty move to try and fake out Vladar, but the Bruins netminder held the fort and stuck his left pad out to deny Sanheim and keep Boston alive.
Sanheim would get his revenge however, as he turned on the jets after blocking a Bergeron shot and raced up ice and made the former Selke Trophy winner fall as he tried to backcheck. Sanheim would ease in on Vladar and finally solved him to seal the deal and lift Philadelphia to an absolutely must-needed win over the Bruins by a score of 3-2.
- Travis Konecny – Konecny netted his first goal in 13 games in the first period. Konecny now has eight goals on the year and has been playing better recently, and his goal was hopefully the start of a rampage for #11.
- Brian Elliott – The Moose was loose tonight, making 27 saves in the win which included some real testers, but Elliott was up to the challenge against a Boston team that’s had the Flyers’ number all season.
- Sean Couturier – Couturier scored Philadelphia’s first power play goal in five games dating back to March 27th against the New York Rangers. Couturier now has 28 points in 26 games and has scored points in six of his last seven games. The Flyers’ top centerman has continued to produce at a high level.
- Claude Giroux – The captain played another great game tonight, registering an assist on Konecny’s goal and set up plenty of scoring chances. He also played a great defensive game and was arguably Philadelphia’s best all-around player tonight.
- Travis Sanheim – Sanheim recorded his first goal since January 21st, also at Boston, to secure the victory in overtime. I thought Travis played a solid game and was rewarded for his efforts with an awesome goal around Bergeron to win it. Coincidentally, Sanheim’s only other overtime-winning goal was also against the Bruins at TD Garden on January 31st, 2019.
- Officiating – NHL officiating has been a hot topic all year long, but this was possibly the worst called game the Flyers were a part of this season. The most glaring mistakes were a missed high stick against Tanner Laczynski by Jeremy Lauzon, a slew foot/trip against Travis Sanheim by Craig Smith, and an obvious delay of game for closing his hand on the puck also by Smith. This has been a theme in the league all season and tonight was another example of the incompetence the players and teams have dealt with this season.
The Flyers are right back at it tomorrow night in South Philadelphia as they’ll take on the Bruins again for the second half of this home-and-home series at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers clawed to within three points of the fourth-place Bruins for a playoff berth with the win tonight. And they’ll look to build upon tonight’s effort and try to gain two more points tomorrow in front of the home crowd.