By JAY BOEHMERSenior Hockey Insider — firstname.lastname@example.org _______
This was not your average game against the Boston Bruins – who have allowed the fewest goals of any team. Instead, offense was the name of the game as each team put its scoring prowess on display in this 7-5 shootout.
The Flyers controlled the early portions of the contest, stepping out to an early lead courtesy of a strange angle shot by Scott Hartnell. Peter Laviolette’s men kept pushing, getting a handful of chances before an opportunity by David Krejci forced a hooking penalty by Mike Richards.
The ensuing Bruins’ offense – building momentum courtesy of the power play – backed the Flyers up and drew another couple of penalties, leaving the Flyers with three skaters to fend off a surging Bruins team. Zdeno Chara made them pay with a blast from the point.
Boston took the lead early in the second period, but the Flyers came back with goals by Nikolay Zherdev – reinserted into the lineup at the expense of Dan Carcillo – and Jeff Carter, whose goal came with barely 30 seconds remaining.
But as Boston came out with a goal in the opening minute of the second, so they did at the start of the third. Mark Recchi cashed in on a strange bounce while dumping in the puck, leaving Brian Boucher stranded behind the goal. Another goal a minute later gave the Bruins the lead.
The Flyers weren’t fazed, though, and kept pushing. A few minutes later, back-to-back goals by Danny Briere and Sean O’Donnell put them back on top.
Once again, though, this Bruins team – dominant in the third period – found a way to get the puck past Brian Boucher with another set of consecutive goals.
An empty net tally sealed the deal for Boston, leaving the Flyers with a 7-5 loss.
One of the more interesting changes coming into this game was the appearance of Matt Walker, playing in his first regular season game after going through a pair of hip surgeries – the most recent coming on December 17th.
Walker lined up alongside Matt Carle, sending Andrej Meszaros back down to play with O’Donnell. The mixed up D lines didn’t struggle as much as the score may make it seem, with most of the Bruins’ goals coming off strange bounces or deflections rather than open, uncovered men.
When the defense didn’t hold up, though, Brian Boucher was there for some strong saves. Unfortunately, for every great stop he made, an errant deflection seemed to send a puck through the tiniest of holes – it just wasn’t the Flyers’ night.
This loss snaps a four game winning streak for the Flyers, who are making the trip down to Dixie for a match up with the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. They still sit atop the Eastern Conference with 59 points.
Even the Flyers have to lose sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when it happens.