Saturday, March 17, 2012
You Didn't Think The Bruins Would Lose At Home On St. Patrick's Day, Did You?
Since they were riding their longest losing streak of the season-four games-it wasn't hyperbole to say that today's game was the most important so far for the B's in 2011-12.
As always with the Philadelphia Flyers, it was physical, it got nasty and Boston (41-27-3) ended up on top with a 3-2 shootout win this afternoon at TD Garden.
The Flyers (41-22-8) gamely rallied from a 2-0 hole on St. Patrick's Day but the Bruins converted all their of their shootout attempts and Tim Thomas (30-18-0, 4th season of 30+ wins; 27 saves) stuffed Daniel Briere to end it. Thomas is a perfect 6-0 in shootouts this season and the Bruins wrapped up a 3-1 season series vs. the Flyers.
After no-showing last time out in Florida on Thursday, a game I admittedly didn't watch any of, the B's came out today with their best period in ages. It only took 1:55 for Gregory Campbell and Zac Rinaldo to fight, before many Bruins fans had probably sat down with their cups of Guinness.
For the first time in eight games, they scored the first goal (which always helps) as Chris Kelly (17th of the season) followed a Benoit Pouliot rebound at 6:23. Brian Rolston had the second assist.
Tyler Seguin (25th of the season) made it 2-0 at 17:07 thanks to a nifty goal-line feed from behind the net by Patrice Bergeron. Brad Marchand had the other assist.
Philadelphia goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov (31 saves) entered as the NHL's hottest goalie and he played more like that after the first period.
I wouldn't call it a fight, it was more like an ass-kicking when Johnny Boychuk absolutely demolished Max Talbot, who didn't return after that, early in the second.
Impressive Flyers rookie Matt Read (20th of the season) cut it to 2-1 at 9:16 of the second. He tipped in Briere's shot, Matt Carle also had an assist.
It looked like Boston might escape in regulation but Philly tied it up with 4:17 left on another tipped goal, this time by Jakub Voracek (14th of the season). Braydon Coburn and Read had the assists.
After no goals in overtime, shooters on both teams couldn't miss. In order: David Krejci, Read, Seguin, Claude Giroux and Bergeron all scored. Then Briere didn't, game over and Thomas rightly celebrated like it was a playoff game.
Two bits of good news from later in the day: 1) Toronto beat Ottawa 3-1 so Boston held its one-point lead in the Northeast Division (with two games in hand). 2) The Bruins signed a two-year extension with Shawn Thornton. It makes perfect sense for them to lock up one of their leaders both on and off the ice; you won't find many better teammates or tougher guys in the NHL. I'm pumped that Thornton will be around for two more years since he's one of my favorite Bruins.
The Maple Leafs come to the Garden on Monday. The B's will look for the very rare season sweep (six games) against their divisional rival. Two more points would be key before the Black and Gold head to the West Coast for three games (Sharks, Kings, Ducks) later in the week.
UPDATE 3/19: The Bruins announced Thornton's two-year extension today. Terms were not disclosed although reports peg it at $2.2 million.