Bruins edge Flyers, stay red hot on the road
Thanks to the brilliance of Tuukka Rask (career-high 49 saves) and clutch play of Reilly Smith, the Bruins captured their franchise record ninth straight win on the road Sunday, a 4-3 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Boston (52-17-6) trailed two different times and survived a barrage of shots by Philadelphia, who are trying to stay out of the Wild Card range in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have picked up points in their last 16 games (14-0-2) and they went 15-1-1 in March, which is insane.
Playing their second matinee game this weekend, the Bruins made sure that this wasn’t the usual boring afternoon contest. Vincent Lecavalier scored 5:25 into the first period but former Flyer Andrej Meszaros answered with a goal a little over five minutes later (his second as a Bruin and first since his debut vs. Florida on March 9). This had the feel of a playoff game as Jarome Iginla fought Zac Rinaldo after a hard but clean hit by the Flyer. Kimmo Timonen made it 2-1 Philadelphia with 41.5 seconds left in the first thanks to a beautiful backhand pass by Jakub Voracek.
Boston went ahead with a pair of goals in the second. Zdeno Chara scored his team-leading 10th power play goal of the season (trailing only Nashville’s Shea Weber for defensemen, he has 11) on a backhander. Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead with a quick turnaround shot that seemed to catch Flyers goaltender Steve Mason (27 saves) off guard. Bergeron has scored goals in seven consecutive games which is the most for a Bruin since Geoff Courtnall in 1985-86.
With Mason pulled for an extra attacker, Lecavalier beat Rask with 25 seconds left in regulation. Boston basically hung on in the third period and overtime as Philadelphia outshot them 25-7 including 8-1 in the extra session. Bergeron and Claude Giroux scored in the shootout but nobody else could match them until Smith clinched it in the fifth round (he’s 2-for-2 lifetime in shootouts with both being game-winners).
The Bruins are off until Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN) when they travel to Detroit. It’s the front leg of another back-to-back as they are in Toronto (36-32-8) on Thursday (7:30, NESN) to close out their four-game road trip.
What they’ll be saying: All that’s left for the Bruins to earn in the regular season is the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and the President’s Trophy (most points in the NHL). They are up 11 points on Pittsburgh with the Penguins hosting the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Boston also leads St. Louis by three points but the Blues have one game in hand. The last time that the B’s captured the President’s Trophy was in 1989-90 when they fell to the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final (4-1), the last Cup of Edmonton’s dynasty. For what it’s worth, the Blackhawks won it last year and doubled their hardware with the Cup.
Torey Krug, Jordan Caron and Corey Potter were the healthy scratches for Boston. Meszaros helped his cause with a goal but Matt Bartkowski continued to struggle defensively (where Krug also has scuffled). Bartkowski had an assist but he was minus-1. Krug hadn’t scored a goal in his last six games so Meszaros is a suitable replacement on the power play until he gets in a groove again.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate