The Bruins extended their point streak to nine games with today’s 4-3 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, and they are now 6-0-3 in that span, with their last regulation loss coming on January 17 – a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals. Boston also extended their home point streak to eight games at 5-0-3, with their last home regulation loss a 1-0 setback to Minnesota on January 6.
Bitz Buried It…
Byron Bitz has been receiving praise in the Bruins locker room since being called up from Providence on Jan. 10; he’s had some luck on the ice, too, recording two assists and a pretty big-time fight against Washington Capitals captain Donald Brashear.
And this afternoon, with just over one minute left in the first period of the Bruins 4-3 overtime loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, he scored his first career NHL goal off a rebound from a Mark Stuart shot.
“He keeps improving every game,” said head coach Claude Julien. “We really like the way he competes along the walls; he doesn’t turn the puck over too often; not afraid to go to the net.
“Obviously he’s got the size and the strength to do that, and I think he plays in his limits and utilizes the assets he has to his advantage.”
Bitz tried to keep things in perspective.
“[I was] a little bit fortunate. You know?” said the big winger. “I've had a lot better chances and missed.
“It was kind of a lucky bounce…[and I] just come and tap it in, but I'll take it.” Speedy Scoring
Just eight seconds after Bitz’s goal, Chuck Kobasew potted a third goal for the Bruins with just 52.8 second remaining in the opening period.
Those two goals were the fastest goals for the Bruins since the 1981 season, when Barry Pederson and Norman Leveille also scored eight seconds apart in a game against the Los Angeles Kings. Manny’s Return
Manny Fernandez earned his first start in net in 12 games, and the Flyers made him work to keep his league-leading goals against average and third place save percentage (2.07 and .928, respectively, at the start of today’s match) near the top of the rankings.
One particularly pretty set of saves came 12:10 into the game, as he wound up on his stomach, head in the goal, and somehow stopped a puck with his leg.
Another key save came with just 4.5 second remaining in the game, when Fernandez snapped his glove on a shot by Simon Gagne to keep the score tied at three and send the game to overtime.
“We didn’t give him much help,” said Julien. “The winning goal [was] a bad bounce.
“He made a big save at the end to keep us in there, and he hadn’t played in over a month, so I don’t think we expected him to necessarily…bail us out.”
Including overtime, Fernandez stopped 26 of 30 shots. Other Notes
This afternoon’s game was Phil Kessel’s 200th career NHL game, also his 200th Bruins game…Stuart’s assist on the Bitz goal, and another one on the B’s first goal of the game by Marc Savard
at 3:52, give him new career season-highs for assists (six) and points (eight)…Shane Hnidy assisted on Boston’s third goal today, giving him a new career season-high of nine.