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The Boston Bruins (31-13-2) and Philadelphia Flyers (28-14-5) sure did turn some heads on Sunday afternoon. Sure the attention wasn’t all theirs at 3 pm eastern time, but a dramatic 6-5 Bruins shootout win gave Boston fans just another thing to celebrate on a day that featured wins from the Celtics and Patriots.
The Bruins and Flyers were certainly ready for lots of early action. Under a minute into the game Brad Marchand set up Patrice Bergeron for a score past Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. The goal was Bergeron’s 15th of the season.
Philadelphia made plans to respond sooner than later, but they weren’t intending on Dennis Seidenberg being such a key contributor to their offense. A centering pass by Max Talbot looked to be intercepted by Seidenberg, but the Bruins defenseman instead deflected the puck off his stick past Tim Thomas as an equalizer.
The blunder didn’t seem costly though as the Bruins got going offensively. On a power play Tyler Seguin blasted a pass from Bergeron into net about midway through the period. Then just a few minutes later Milan Lucic scored to give the Bruins an early 3-1 lead, which they would hold to the end of the period. Marchand nearly added a shorthanded goal before all was said and done but was denied by Bryzgalov.
Scott Hartnell made quite the impression for the Flyers in the second. Early after the intermission, he received a pass from Claude Giroux and fired it past Tim Thomas, pulling Philadelphia within a goal of their rivals. Then Hartnell tied the game minutes later on another goal, this time with a puck that rose and sank past Thomas. Just like that the Bruins found themselves looking for answers.
Penalties were a theme throughout the game for both sides. With just under 5 minutes remaining in the period, Tyler Seguin was sent to the penalty box on a high-sticking call. The penalty gave the Flyers the perfect opportunity to score their third straight but some timely saves and solid defense halted the Philadelphia assault. At this point the Bruins were just hoping to get to the third period without trailing despite their early 3-1 lead.
But Hartnell wasn’t quite done yet. He scored the natural hat trick, three consecutive goals against the Bruins to rally the Flyers back out in front, now leading 4-3 as the period came to a close. The Philadelphia crowd roared in celebration, throwing countless hats onto the ice as the Flyers looked poised for a dramatic comeback win against Boston. But the Bruins still had one period left to get their act together, and it would be an extended period as the officials announced the remaining 47 seconds of the second would be played after the intermission, before the start of the third, as fans threw their hats all over the ice.
The remaining time of the second period didn’t lead to much of anything from either side, except some extra skating. The Bruins needed to recover from their second period collapse, and they managed just that as they came back to tie the game under two minutes in. David Krejci scored his 11th goal of the season on a redirect in front of the net. The original shot came from Rich Peverley, and an assist went to Lucic who earned the Gordie Howe hat trick.
The Bruins continued to look like their first period selves, scoring again in the opening five minutes to regain the lead. This time it was Gregory Campbell slapping one somehow in net to give Boston an improbable 5-4 lead. On a day when nearly all of New England was focusing on the Patriots and Ravens in the AFC Championship, the Bruins and Flyers were certainly making some noise.
Rough play around Tim Thomas, including a high hit on Chris Kelly that left him down on the ice resulted in a two minute power play for Philadelphia, who looked to even the score yet again. A blast from the center of the blue line came from Matt Carle and appeared to be redirected by Max Talbot, once again beyond Thomas. The game was tied 5-5, truly a sign that anything was bound to happen in the remaining nine minutes.
The Philadelphia offense had been terrifyingly successful against Tim Thomas and the Bruins defense on the power play all game long. That made it that much scarier when they went on yet another man advantage with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation. This penalty came against Johnny Boychuk for tripping, but it didn’t prove costly for the Bruins who killed it off before the Flyers could manage any real threats.
Four minutes remained as the two sides began to slow down, physically and mentally with plenty of mistakes offensively and defensively becoming common ground for the elite Eastern Conference teams. But with 3:07 remaining in the game Chris Kelly was called for an inexcusable penalty giving the Flyers a golden opportunity to grab the win. The Bruins defense however was ready to stand tall, killing off the penalty and denying the Flyers a single shot on goal. Time expired in an extremely dramatic final few minutes, the game heading for overtime.
A win in overtime would mean first place in the Eastern Conference for the Bruins through a tiebreaker. The Flyers fired a shot a minute in that deflected across the net but trickled wide of ending things, and Tim Thomas saved a redirected tip soon after to preserve the tie.
Rick Peverley missed high with just over three minutes remaining, shooting well over the Philadelphia net. Brad Marchand attempted to split two defenders in the attacking zone but failed to make anything as he was pushed aside by the Flyers. Just over two minutes remained before the teams would head for a shootout.
A streak of seven consecutive penalties against the Bruins ended when a penalty was called against Kimmo Timonen, giving the Bruins the final 1:40 of overtime to set up a game winning goal. Their first attempt ended in a blocked blast from Zdeno Chara. David Krejci also slapped a hard shot towards net, but it deflected off the ice. The final twenty seconds of overtime trickled down, the Bruins not converting on a last second shot by Peverley either.
Matt Read struggled to control the puck and make a move in the first attempt for Philadelphia. 0-0
David Krejci scores to give Boston a 1-0 lead firing to the right of the Flyers goalie.
Claude Giroux scored past Tim Thomas to give the Flyers their first point of the shootout, 1-1.
Tyler Seguin scores to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead, the Flyers must score to stay alive.
Tim Thomas stops Wayne Simmonds to end it, the Bruins win!
Tough to see a great game like the Bruins and Flyers played end in a shootout, especially given the physicality as a key for both sides. Next up for Boston is Tuesday night in Washington, against the 25-19-3 Capitals.