Now THIS was a Winter Classic!
Fierce playoff opponents the last two years, the Flyers and Bruins didn’t need Citizens Bank Park yesterday to put on a captivating show that had a bit everything.
From the time Boston sprung Chris Kelly on a breakaway off the opening draw, until an otherwise ordinary Tim Thomas stopped Wayne Simmonds in the shootout to preserve a 6-5 Bruins’ victory, these two Eastern Conference heavyweights put it all on the line.
Bottom line aside, as the Flyers gained three of four possible points for the weekend after beating the Devils 4-1 Saturday, no one should be surprised should they meet up again in the postseason.
“Tonight was a big test for us,” said Max Talbot, who scored the tying goal twice, including a third period power play goal with 9:22 left. “I remember what happened last game. They came here and won the game 6-0. Today was definitely about showing that we are a great team. Unfortunately, we did not get the two points.”
Don’t blame Scott Hartnell. With his father, Bill, looking on, Hartnell and Claude Giroux worked their magic for three straight goals — all coming from the slot — as the Flyers erased a 3-1 deficit to briefly take the lead.
“It would’ve been great if we could have gotten two points at the end of the night,” said Hartnell. “But all the hits and all the fights, the goals both ways, us having a poor start and coming back and getting the lead. Unfortunately, we weren't able to hold on, but an exciting game to be a fan.”
Maybe not so much if you were in goal.
“It's tough, but you can't put all the blame on Bryz,” said Hartnell, who now has six career hat tricks, two of them natural. “I know a couple of them were deflected and it's really tough to stop deflections. I'm sure maybe he'd like to have a couple of them back, just like every other goalie.”
In the end, after the Flyers had several near misses at the end of regulation and through overtime, their fortune ran out in the shootout. Only Giroux was able to solve Thomas, while David Krejci and Tyler Seguin beat Ilya Bryzgalov.
Still, Peter Laviolette liked what he saw from a team missing injured Jaromir Jagr, Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk, the latter two out with concussions.
“I thought that our guys gave it everything they had tonight,” said Laviolette. “But it’s difficult to be happy when you don't get the extra point.”
The Flyers head to Florida tomorrow in the final game before the All-Star break.
3 things we saw
1. AWW, SHOOT.
The Flyers couldn’t convert in the shootout. The Bruins’ David Krejci and Tyler Seguin beat Ilya Bryzgalov, while Tim Thomas stopped Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds, wrapped around Claude Giroux’s goal. That makes the Flyers 0-3 in shootouts.
2. STAR POWER.
Scottie Hartnell has long been considered a grinder who specialized in “dirty goals” which deflect off his or an opponent’s stick. But now he’s a sniper, with a lethal wrist shot that has racked up 25 goals, including a hat trick yesterday.
3. LIKE OLD TIMES.
With Tom Sestito, Brayden Schenn and Jody Shelley all dropping the gloves versus Milan Lukic, Chris Kelly and Shawn Thornton, respectively. This one was never dull from the first 10 seconds when Kelly went in free and Bryzgalov stoned him.