In the back half of a home-and-home set and the second game of three between the teams this week, the Philadelphia Flyers lost a must-win game to the Boston Bruins. 4-2, at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. Special teams were the Flyers' undoing as they gave up a power play goal on Boston's first man advantage and then, with a change to forge ahead on the power play in the third period, instead coughed up a shorthanded goal off a 2-on-1.
Patrice Bergeron scored even-strength and power play goals (13th and 14th goals of the season) to build a 2-0 lead for Boston through one period. Brad Marchand assisted on both tallies. Early in the second period, Jakub Voracek (6th) finished off a Travis Konecny set up off a Boston turnover and then was the playmaker on a Shayne Gostisbehere (6th) tally that tied the game at 2-2. A shorthanded 2-on-1 goal by Marchand (18th) off a Jeremy Lauzon pass restored a 3-2 lead for the Bruins at 8:21 of the third period. Bergeron finished off a hat trick (15th goal of the season) with an empty netter to seal the Flyers' fate.
Carter Hart stopped 23 of 26 shots, taking the loss. Jeremy Swayman made his NHL debut in net for the Bruins, and stopped 40 of 42 shots.
The Flyers went 0-for-3 on the power play, and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Oskar Lindblom returned to the Flyers' lineup. Michael Raffl moved from fourth-line left wing to center the line, replacing rookie Tanner Laczynski. Charlie McAvoy was a late scratch for Boston due to an upper-body injury.
The Flyers dominated the second period and had a chance to take the lead on a third period power play. Instead, they lost a puck in the attack zone, yielding a shorthanded 2-on-1 and gave up what proved to be the game-winning goal to Marchand. The loss was a very costly one in the standings for the Flyers, who dropped five points behind Boston.
1) The Flyers generated five shots on Swayman in the first 10 minutes of the game, but all were routine, clear-sighted shots. Swayman was first tested on Philadelphia's first power play, making an excellent save on a Joel Farabee redirect of a Claude Giroux setup. Later, he denied Nolan Patrick from the right side. First period shots ended up 13-11 in the Flyers' favor, but the Bruins had the only two that matters.
2) On the first Bergeron goal, Marchand made a good move in the offensive zone fired a shot at the net. Craig Smith deflected the puck and it bounced on net, creating a hard-to-control rebound. Bergeron eluded Ivan Provorov to claim the puck and stash it home at 7:09.
The Flyers' Scott Laughton had two breakaways in the first period. On the first, he shot over the net. Hart denied a 2-on-1 the other way after the puck bounced past Provorov. On the second, a shorthanded breakaway after Nicolas Aube-Kubel took a neutral zone holding penalty, Swayman denied Laughton's backhander. The Bruins then scored off the rush the other way: Marchand to Pastrnak in the right circle to Bergeron at center slot, who was lost by Kevin Hayes. Bergeron releases the shot quickly. The Flyers really needed a clutch save from Hart here, but he was beaten five-hole at 17;31. Boston ran its power play success rate against the Flyers this season to 10-for-19.
3) The Flyers responded quickly in the second period with some opportunistic offense. At 1:33, the Bruins paid for a Jakub Zboril giveaway in his own zone. Konecny claimed it, Voracek went to the net and tapped home the precision pass to cut the gap to 2-1.
Philly knotted the game at 2-2 at the 4:04 mark. The Bruins had a defender without a stick and the Flyers took the play right at them. A cross ice pass from Voracek was on the mark to Gostisbehere, who moves left and beats Swayman up high.
4) The Flyers had a couple nervous moments in their own end of the ice in the second period -- perhaps most notably an extended shift hemmed in their own zone after Provorov skated the puck into trouble and Hart erasing a Phil Myers miscue -- but they had a very heavy territorial edge overall. The Flyers had the Bruins backing into their zone often with good plays through the neutral zone. Also, when there wasn't a clean breakout, they made some good use of high flips out of the D-zone with retrieval pressure. On Monday night, several of those went for icings.
Laughton had his third golden scoring of the game but whiffed on a one-time as the puck bounced. Patrick couldn't come up with the puck as Swayman juggled a shot from up high. Konecny drew iron from the right circle trying to go high glove on the rookie goalie. Swayman picked Voracek with the glove in the final minute of the frame. Couturier nearly scored on a tip try just before the buzzer. Overall Philly racked up a 24-7 shot on goal edge (38-18 through two periods).
5) The Bruins' checking was much tighter in the third period, holding the Flyers to a mere two shots on goal through 15:15. Play got feisty at times. Apart from yielding backbreaking shorthanded goal, the Flyers couldn't do much during a 4-on-4. With 1:58 left, the Flyers called timeout and pulled Hart for a 6-on-5.