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Marc Savard, Boston’s offensive spark who had not played in an NHL game since suffering a Grade 2 concussion on March 7, scored the game-winning overtime goal to give the Bruins a 5-4 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the first game of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Savard, playing in his first playoff game since last season’s Game 7 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the semi-finals, saved the Bruins from losing after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
Steve Begin drew the first blood of the series, scoring his first goal of the playoffs 2:39 into the game. Begin, originally lined with Vladimir Sobotka and Blake Wheeler on the fourth line, moved up to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, who recorded assists on the goal, after Marco Sturm left the game with a leg injury after just 41 seconds of play.
Bergeron notched his third goal of the playoffs with just over seven minutes remaining the first to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead. Defenseman Dennis Wideman, who had four points (one goal, three assists) against the Buffalo Sabres in the opening round of the playoffs, earned the first of his three assists in the game on Bergeron’s goal, which was a nifty backhand past Philadelphia’s Brian Boucher, who finished with 41 saves.
The Flyers cut the Bruins’ lead in half at 7:38 into the second period on Ryan Parent’s goal, but Miroslav Satan scored on the power play just over four minutes later. Savard and Flyers Daniel Carcillo and Mike Richards were all in the penalty box for their roles in a post-whistle flare-up, which gave the Bruins the man-advantage.
However, the Flyers weren’t about to quit despite being down by two goals again. Boston’s power play, which was perfect against Buffalo, allowed its first goal of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs when Adam McQuaid took an immature and ill-advised hooking penalty, which allowed Chris Pronger to send a slapshot past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who should have been able to make the save, for a 3-2 Bruins lead. On his next shift, McQuaid took a second straight – and just as stupid – penalty for interference on Daniel Briere, but the Flyers were unable to capitalize.
The Bruins and Flyers both exchanged a number of opportunities to open the third period, but no one was able to get anything past either exceptional goalie until David Krejci made it 4-2 after seven minutes had passed. The celebration following Krejci’s textbook-patience goal lasted for just more than five minutes until Richards scored Philadelphia’s second power play goal of the game, following a failure by the referees to call Scott Hartnell for goaltender interference on Rask. Just four minutes and one second later, Briere tied the game at four all after splitting Wideman and Matt Hunwick and netting his own rebound. Neither team scored in the final four minutes of play, sending the first playoff game between the two teams since 1978 into overtime.
Both goalies kept the game even by standing on their respective heads to open the overtime. Boucher made a number of miraculous saves, including a couple on shots by Satan, but Rask matched every move, stuffing Hartnell and Carcillo on separate attacks. At 13:52 into the extra period, just under 74 minutes of playing time, Savard sent the puck sent a slapper past Boucher and under the crossbar from the right circle to end the game and send every Bruins fan in the TD Garden into a celebratory frenzy. It’s a shame the game was on NBC because Jack Edwards’s reaction would have been priceless.
While Bergeron, Rask, and Wideman (yes, the Dennis Wideman) could have all found themselves in this category, Marc Savard clearly earned this title. After having not playing in seven weeks, Savard was eased back into the game by Bruins head coach Claude Julien, but he made sure he was an impact player all-around. It’s great to have you back, Savvy!
The entire Bruins defense, with the exception of Wideman (yes, the Dennis Wideman), could be called bums for relying too much on Rask and the offense to win the game for them, but McQuaid took two very stupid penalties, which are indicative of his youth. He will mature quickly, especially with the veterans on the Bruins, but he nearly cost the Bruins the game today.
“I have to admit there was a little water in my eyes. It was such a nice ovation. The crowd has treated me great and my teammates have treated me great.” – Marc Savard, on the standing ovation he received when he first took the ice this afternoon.
The Bruins nearly blew this afternoon’s game on multiple occasions, but they managed to pull it off thanks to the heroics of Savard and Rask. However, they can’t continue to sit back on their leads and expect to win every game, like they did today, especially in the second period when they were out-shot 11-6. Furthermore, the Flyers were much more physical, out-hitting the Bruins 44-28. One of the keys to the Bruins’ opening-round victory over the Buffalo Sabres was their physicality and this series against the Broad Street Bullies will be no different. To win, the Bruins need to continue throwing their weight around, especially in front of the Flyers’ net. If they assert their physicality and block Boucher’s view of incoming shots, they should have no problem with grounding the Flyers.