Boston, MA - The Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, but it wasn't quite enough to hold off the Philadelphia Flyer's, as Boston lost 5-3 on Friday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden. Eric Nickulas had a goal and an assist and Sergei Samsonov had two assists in the loss. Andrew Raycroft finished the afternoon with 22 saves.
"I thought we had a lot of momentum in the second period," Coach Mike Sullivan said. "We control their play territorially and we took a couple of penalties. The goals they scored on the power play were strange goals. Tonight the difference was the special teams. Their power play got two goals and we didn't get any."
Simon Gagne put Philadelphia on the board first with a goal at 16:11 off a pass from Mike Knuble. Gagne slid to the left side of the goalmouth untouched, receiving a pass from Knuble for his 21st of the year and a 1-0 Flyer's lead.
Philadelphia jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the power play just 4:15 into the second period. A fluke goal, the Bruins' Hal Gill chopped at the puck, sending it into the air and over the net, where it bounced off of Andrew Raycroft's blocker and into the net. Eric Desjardins was credited with the goal.
The Bruins quickly responded, scoring three goals in a 4:09 span, the first on a goal by Eric Nickulas. Nickulas took the puck to the net, cut across the crease and stuffed it home in mid-air for his first of the year, making it 2-1 Philadelphia. Sergei Samsonov and David Tanabe were credited with assists.
"It was a set breakout that we use," said Eric Nickulas. "I just broke down the wing and (Sammy) gave me the puck. I tried to shoot but the defenseman blocked the puck. Luckily it came back to me, and I just did what I know, just take it to the net and hope good things happen, and it did."
"Eric's a guy that has great skills, great offensive instincts, and he brings a little bit of a different dimension to that line," Sullivan added. We made a conscious decision to get the fourth line more involved because of the amount of games, trying to keep the energy level. A guy like Eric can really help in that regard."
Five minutes later, at 8:42, Joe Thornton took a pass from Milan Jurcina as he jumped off the bench and went in all alone on Flyer's goalie Antero Niittymaki and scored his ninth of the season to tie the game at 2-2.
A minute later, Boston took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Jiri Slegr. Slegr shot the puck from the point through a crowd and it made its way to the back of the net for his fifth of the season.
The Flyer's came right back though. Peter Forsberg scored two more goals at the end of the second to regain a Flyer's 4-3 lead. From there, they never looked back. The two teams skated through the third period scoreless until Michal Handzus netted an empty net goal at 19:36 to seal the Flyer's 5-3 victory.
The Bruins travel to Ottawa to take on the Northeast Division leading Ottawa Senators on Saturday at the Corel Centre. Game time is 7:00 p.m. and can be seen on NESN.