BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
The past two games, wins over Toronto and then the Islanders, came against the bottom of the barrel in the conference and the league as a whole. The Flyers managed two wins, but they were anything but confidence boosters. Either way, they lived to fight another day, left the rink with two more points, and made it to a matchup at home against the Boston Bruins.
Here’s where their luck ran out. Having won five straight home games and facing the team with the lowest goals per game average in the league, it seemed to be a formula for one of those by-the-books wins. Unfortunately, by continuing to play the way they did in their last two wins, the Flyers were taken for a ride by a team able to take advantage of their sloppiness.
The first period ended with the game still in check, only down by one goal that came off a Blake Wheeler backhander past Michael Leighton, and the second period started off with a bang. Four seconds into a power play, Jeff Carter buried a turnover created by Scott Hartnell for his 10th goal in the last 10 games and fresh start on this game.
Sadly, that didn’t last long, and the Bruins made the Flyers pay. Patrice Bergeron assisted on the go ahead goal by Mark Recchi and then put one in on his own to make the score 3-1, Boston. David Krejci scored off a fancy set of passing that drew defenseman Kimmo Timonen out of position and left Leighton out to dry for the fourth goal of the night.
It would be his last as Leighton was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher; it was not so much a comment on his play as much as a wake up call to the rest of the team.
The Flyers were getting scoring chances all night. It wasn’t consistent pressure, though, and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask came up huge when he was challenged, making several spectacular saves. Unfortunately, their play in the defensive zone was porous at best.
The two teams played out the third period with more of the same. The Flyers continued to test Rask with periodic surges, while the Bruins did the same against Brian Boucher. Unfortunately, all the saves were made at one end. Patrice Bergeron set up another beauty of a play for a goal by Marco Sturm and the final 5-1 lead.
This loss allows the Montreal Canadiens to tie the Flyers at 74 points and the Bruins to pull within two when the Flyers had a chance to pull away considerably. They could have begun to separate themselves from the pack fighting for the last few playoff spots and set their sights on the higher seeds.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Tukka Rask: The obvious star, he stopped 31 of 32 shots, many of them being potential game changers, and led his team to a 5-1 win.
Patrice Bergeron: The Bruins’ top scorer, now playing without a key piece in the injured Marc Savard, found a way to get pucks to the back of the net. He had a goal and two quality assists.
Jeff Carter: Continuing his hot scoring streak, Carter now has 32 goals on the year, despite struggling to score throughout the months of November and December. The Flyers hope that he can continue this play going forward.