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Saturday, January 14, 2017

If You Come to TD Garden This Season to Play the Bruins, You Better Hope That It's a Night Game

You can find a stat for basically anything these days in sports, good or bad so here goes: with today's 6-3 win for the Bruins (23-18-5) at TD Garden vs. Flyers (22-17-6), Boston improved to 5-0-0 in matinees this season. The good news for them is that they have eight more of those remaining this season. The win also put their home record back at .500 (10-10-0 overall, 6-10-0 at night) so if they know what's good for them, they should try to get all their home games changed to afternoon starts (like the Cubs used to have).

Brad Marchand (2 goals, 3 assists) matched his career-high with five points (he's done that 3 times now) and Torey Krug scored a goal for the third straight game as five different Bruins scored goals (2nd time they've done that this season). Boston also matched it's season-high with six goals scored. Philadelphia had a 10-game win-streak earlier this season but they have really cratered since then. Steve Mason was winless in his last seven decisions (0-5-2) so backup goaltender Michal Neuvirth stayed in for the entire beating. Even weirder, Philadelphia defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch. Huh? Explain that one to me, head coach Dave Hakstol.

The Bruins' power play also scored two goals, that unit has picked it up recently with goals in nine of their last 12 contests. Finally, Tuukka Rask (21 saves) was back in net after leaving Thursday's 2-1 loss at Nashville where he took a puck up high and had to leave the game (he was checked for a concussion). The Flyers actually scored first as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (with a name like that, how is he not on the Canadiens?) tipped in Ivan Provorov's shot from the point at 2:05 of the first period. Chris VandeVelde notched the other assist on Bellemare's third goal of the season.

Boston used some good old puck luck to tie it up at 7:48 of the first period. Marchand skated in on a breakaway but lost control of the puck yet it still managed to go by Neuvirth. Marchand's shorthanded goal was unassisted and his 16th goal of the season. He has two shorthanded goals this season (tied with teammate Dominic Moore and many others for the NHL lead) and 21 in his career (most in NHL since 2009-10). The second period was one of Boston's best in 2016-17 and undoubtedly the most entertaining as the B's scored four goals and the Flyers netted a pair themselves.

David Krejci has been playing well lately (4 goals, 5 assists in his last 11 games) and his power play goal gave the Black and Gold a 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish. Krejci's goal was an absolute snipe, his 10th goal of the season, assisted by Austin Czarnik at 2:00. Exactly four minutes later, Krug tipped in a pretty passing sequence from Marchand and Pastrnak for his fourth goal of the season. It was a big day for special teams as Philadelphia also scored two power play goals. Brayden Schenn tipped in a shot by Mark Streit at 8:16 to cut it to 4-2 Bruins. Claude Giroux picked up the second assist as Schenn extended his point-streak to five games (4 goals, 1 assist) with his 15th goal of the season.

Bergeron tallied Boston's second power play goal as his one-timer from Marchand and Krug was also deflected by Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald's stick. It was his ninth goal of the season and he has six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in his last six games. Zdeno Chara's blast extended the Bruins' lead to 5-2 at 15:18 of the second. Pastrnak and Marchand had the helpers on Chara's third goal of the season. Pasta now has seven assists in his last six games which makes up for the fact that he hasn't scored a goal in a long time.

Philly had a 5-on-3 late in the second and Wayne Simmonds (I always say it but how good would he look in a Bruins uniform?) jammed in a pass from Jakub Voracek. Giroux assisted on Simmonds' team-leading 18th goal of the season. Not much happened in the third period besides Marchand bagged an empty-netter, he's only two goals behind Pastrnak for the team lead and has a 10-point edge over Pastrnak for the team lead (43-33).

Boston is still in second-place in the Atlantic Division and their next few games are very favorable as they host the Islanders (16-16-8) on Monday afternoon (1, NESN) and go to Detroit (17-19-6) on Wednesday (8, NBC Sports). At this moment, the Islanders and Red Wings are tied for last-place in the Eastern Conference so these are the garbage teams that they have to beat no questions asked.

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