The Boston Bruins knew they were going to get a do-or-die effort from the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday and that’s exactly what the Flyers delivered as they beat the Bruins 3-2 in Philadelphia to stay alive in the East Division playoff race.
Flyers goalie Brian Elliott made 30 saves and Sean Couturier scored what proved to be the game-winner 6:59 into the third period. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist; Shayne Gostisbehere scored his seventh of the season and James van Riemsdyk had two assists for the Flyers.
Boston Bruins winger Craig Smith continued to prosper on the Bruins’ top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand with two assists, setting up Bergeron for the Bruins captain’s 16th of the season and then feeding winger Jake DeBrusk for his fourth lamplighter this season.
Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman suffered his first NHL loss and also suffered from rebound control again, allowing three goals on 23 Flyers shots.
Heading into Saturday’s tilt at Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers had not beaten the Boston Bruins in regulation (0-6-1) and trailed the B’s by six points for the final playoff spot in the East. They had also been surpassed by the New York Rangers and fallen into sixth place. In the ever-changing NHL and COVID world though, they will now enter NHL action Sunday leading the Rangers by a point and trailing the B’s by four points.
GOLD STAR: Brian Elliott. The Philadelphia Flyers goalie stood on his head in what was essentially a do-or-die game for him and his Flyers teammates. Elliot was a beast on two big penalty kills for the Flyers in the third period. He ended up with 30 saves and was the main reason the Flyer finally beat the Boston Bruins in regulation.
BLACK EYE: Matt Grzelcyk is hurt again. The Boston Bruins defenseman left the game with an upper-body injury after the first period and did not return. Unfortunately, Grzelcyk just can’t seem to stay healthy. After two extended stints on injured reserve – missing 13 games – with separate upper-body injuries, Grzelcyk had finally stayed healthy for a long stretch, playing 18 straight games prior to Saturday. He was also racking up the points, as he had three goals and seven assists during that 18-game span. He entered the game Saturday with three goals and ten assists in 24 games. There was no definitive information on Grzelcyk postgame except that he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Bruins are already without Charlie McAvoy until at least Tuesday and they sorely missed both their puck-moving games Saturday.
TURNING POINT: After the Flyers killed off two straight Boston Bruins powerplays 8:10 and 11:45 into the third period, the Bruins played the rest of the game like a team that couldn’t find the answers. They knew they had blown two solid chances to not just tie the game, but potentially take the lead. The B’s then went into desperation mode and the Flyers clamped down and played 5-on-5 the way they did on the penalty kill.
HONORABLE MENTION: Craig Smith. With another two assists on Saturday, Smith has a goal and four assists in his last three games. By no means was it because of a lack of hustle that Smith struggled to find his niche for the first half of his first season with the Boston Bruins. Smith brought the same sandpaper every game but he just couldn’t get the offensive part of his game going. Well, ever since head coach Bruce Cassidy decided to flip Smith and David Pasternak and slot Smith in next to Bergeron and Marchand, and Pastrnak with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie, Smith and the entire Bruins offense has found their groove. Smith’s hard-nosed style and the two-way game fit in splendidly with Bergeron and Marchand, two of the best two-way players in the NHL.
“You can tell he works hard every shift,” DeBrusk said of Smith. He’s come on as of late and played well with that top line.”
The Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line strikes again.
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/SSz890O1jN
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 10, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 The combined goals between Marchand, Bergeron, and Smith since being put together by head coach Bruce Cassidy on April 3. As mentioned above, Smith has a goal, and Marchand has five and after scoring Saturday, Bergeron has six lamplighters since then.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We don’t have that luxury right now. We just have to play through it.” Cassidy when asked about thinking and reevaluating the situation the blue line is in health-wise.