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Marc Savard gets OT winner in first game back

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Marc Savard gets OT winner in first game back
Boston's Marc Savard made his return from a concussion that sidelined him nearly two months a memorable one by scoring the OT winner on Saturday.
BOSTON -- You couldn't write a better script.

Bruins center Marc Savard and his coach, Claude Julien, both said it after Savard's goal 13:52 into overtime gave Boston a 5-4 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

Savard hadn't played since suffering a concussion from a blindside hit by Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Matt Cooke on March 7. He missed the Bruins' first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres but started working out with the Bruins about a week ago.

"It happened pretty quick because all I saw was the referee's arm go up," Julien said, referring to the delayed-penalty call on Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk for slapping the stick out of Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman's hands. "Then the puck came by and he just, without hesitation, just took a whack at it, shot it and we saw it go in the top corner. Savy's had some nice goals from around that faceoff dot or top of the circle. He shoots it well and he finds the top of that net pretty good."

"You couldn't script it better. It was nice to see him get that and it will be great for his confidence, a great way to come back in the lineup. If someone was going to score and it happened to be him, it makes for some good writing, doesn't it?"

Savard couldn't have asked for a better return after his long absence.

"It's a whirlwind for me. I went through a lot of tough days," Savard said. "When they tied it, we went in the room and I thought, 'I think this is how it's supposed to be, right here.' ... "(Wideman) did a nice pinch there and I thought, 'As soon as this thing lands, I'm shooting it,' and it found a way in."

The game-winner, a slap shot from near the right faceoff dot that went over Brian Boucher's left arm, was only Savard's second shot of the game -- and both came in overtime. He had just missed on a tip-in attempt couple of minutes earlier and Boucher made the save on his wrist shot at 2:41 of overtime.

Savard played 12 minutes and 27 seconds through the end of regulation time without being credited with a shot. Julien used Savard judiciously, playing him 3:36 in the first period; 3:27 in the second and 5:24 in the third period. He was on the ice for 2:46 in overtime.

"Claude did a great job of playing me perfect minutes," Savard said. "I felt as the game went on, I got stronger. In overtime, I guess that's what coaches do. He put me on the wing with Bergy and Rex for the last three shifts. In overtime, we created a lot of chances and found a way to get the winner."

On the winning goal, Boucher made a save on captain Zdeno Chara's shot and threw the puck to Danny Briere along the left boards. But Briere was outmuscled by Wideman, the puck popped in the air and came down between Savard and Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. Savard got there first.

"I thought, why not try to get a shot on net. I took one in the third from center and it was pitiful," Savard said. "I just wanted to get a shot and it landed perfect. I clipped it with everything. It was Dennis pinching, and I think they had a penalty coming after they whacked Dennis' stick out of his hands. I thought put one on net and see what happens and it went in.

"I felt great in overtime and Claude kept rolling me every third shift. He doubled me one time, that's how I wound up with (Patrice Bergeron) and (Mark Recchi). I felt really strong in overtime."

So did the rest of the Bruins -- Boston outshot Philadelphia 15-4 in the extra period and had by far the better of the chances.

"The boys came out really hard in overtime," Savard said. "We had chance after chance. We wanted to make sure we got this win tonight, being at home in the first game of the series. The crowd was unbelievable all night and stood behind us and it feels awesome."

Savard received a standing ovation when he took the ice for his first shift and he said the fans' appreciation made him emotional.

"When I got out there, there was a little water in my eyes because it was such a nice ovation," he said. "I love playing here and that's why I want to stay here. The crowd treated me great. My teammates were great with me all day and I just wanted to fit in."

Savard wanted to do something nice for the Bruins' faithful -- scoring an OT winner wasn't enough? -- so he threw his stick into the crowd. They threw it back.

"I thought it was a treat for somebody because they had been great all night but that person threw it back," Savard said. "I went off to do the Three Stars and all of a sudden I had my stick and I thought, 'Geez, maybe my head, there's something wrong here.' I got it back. They probably thought I made a mistake but that was actually a gift for somebody. Thanks for giving it back.

"You can't script it any better, ask anybody."
 

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres