Despite the brutality of Patrice Bergeron's first-period injury, both the Bruins and Flyers still had a game to play yesterday before 14,956 fans at TD Banknorth Garden.
Philadelphia won the match by a 2-1 score. It was Boston's first loss at home this season.
"It's always about focusing on what we have to do as a team to win a hockey game," said coach Claude Julien. "I thought our guys battled hard. We probably deserved better. We weren't able to bury the chances we had.
"We did go at them hard, especially in the third period. I've got to give credit to the guys. It was definitely a distraction, but they fought through it and certainly tried to win the game for him."
Marco Sturm, Bergeron's linemate, gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 7:51 of the second period, dumping home the rebound of a point slapper by Zdeno Chara through goalie Martin Biron.
The Flyers scored two straight second-period goals to wipe out Boston's advantage. The Bruins went on a power play when former Boston forward Mike Knuble was whistled for high-sticking. But forward Mike Richards slipped behind the Boston point men for a shorthanded breakaway, tucking a backhander past Tim Thomas at 9:36. It was the first shorthanded goal the Bruins have allowed this season. The Flyers netted a power-play goal at 13:00 to take the lead after the Bruins were caught for too many men on the ice. Philadelphia forward Joffrey Lupul, stationed at the left circle, took a feed from behind the net and put a shot past Thomas.
The Bruins had an opportunity to tie the game when Phil Kessel was awarded a penalty shot at 15:09 of the second period. Kessel, sprung loose for a partial breakaway, was tripped up by defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who lost his stick on the play. On the penalty shot, Kessel skated down the left wing but fired his shot over Biron. It was the first penalty shot of Kessel's career.
The Bruins poured 39 shots on the Philadelphia goal, including 33 in the second and third periods. Biron recorded 38 saves.
"I told them the best thing we could do for Patrice would be to work hard and hopefully win the hockey game," Julien said. "That's exactly what our players did. They tried and really worked hard and did a lot of good things. I don't think we should be hanging our head with our effort tonight."
Wideman stepping up
It doesn't help the offensively hamstrung Bruins that one of the top scoring right wings in the league formerly played in Boston.
Brad Boyes, wheeled out of Boston at the trade deadline last season for Dennis Wideman, has been one of Paul Kariya's sidekicks on St. Louis's No. 1 line. With local widebody Keith Tkachuk creating space on the line, Boyes leads the Blues with eight goals. Entering last night, he had scored on 35.3 percent of his shots.
So given the production the Bruins traded away in Boyes, it didn't help that Wideman started the season on the bench as the seventh defenseman. But in a small bit of consolation, Wideman, with every outing that he's appeared in since then (he's skated in all nine games since sitting out the season opener against Dallas), seems to be gaining confidence, settling in as Boston's fifth defenseman.
"We wanted him to stabilize his game a little bit five-on-five," said coach Claude Julien before yesterday's loss. "He's come along real well."
During training camp, Wideman was projected as a candidate to serve as quarterback on one of the two power-play units. Wideman struggled in camp, tweaking his high-risk game to reduce the number of gambles he was taking, and dropped out of favor.
But in Boston's most recent games, Wideman has taken over some shifts from Aaron Ward on the second unit, manning the point along with Andrew Ference. Against Montreal last Monday, Wideman scored his first goal of the year, winging a power-play wrister past goalie Cristobal Huet in the third period for the club's only strike.
On Thursday against Chicago, Julien deployed Wideman on the power play for 2:42, by far the most ice time the 24-year-old has seen on the man-advantage. It also allowed Julien to give Ward, who had been playing even-strength and penalty-kill minutes against Chicago's top line of Tuomo Ruutu, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane, a well-needed rest.
In total, Wideman skated 19 shifts for 15:30 of ice time, the second-most he's seen this season, although much of the 19:27 he played against Montreal came once the game was out of hand. Yesterday, Wideman played a total of 17:09, including 2:36 on the power play.
"Straight out of training camp, they were trying to get me to settle things down a little bit - not feel as if I have to force pucks into play so much," said Wideman, who's on a one-year, $600,000 contract. "I've been doing my best to do that. I think things are going a little better."