3d straight win puts the Bruins in command
PHILADELPHIA — Everyone, it seemed, stopped to marvel at how Mike Richards buried his shoulder into David Krejci at the far blue line and dropped the Bruins center like an egg from a rooftop.
Everyone except Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan.
“It was kind of a weird situation,’’ said Lucic. “[Krejci] tipped it a little bit and the puck kept going. I saw Miro going up the ice, so I just went after the puck.
“I knew it was a two-on-one situation. Miro did a great job beating his guy up the ice. He was wide open for pretty much a breakaway pass. They had all four guys up. Seems like everyone admired the hit except me and Miro. We were able to capitalize on it.’’
What happened next wasn’t just a goal that put some gloss on Krejci’s injury. It turned out to be the winner in last night’s 4-1 victory before 19,688 at the Wachovia Center, a go-ahead, kick-to-the-teeth strike that wiped out an early 1-0 Philadelphia lead.
With Matt Carle caught up the ice and Dan Carcillo unable to recover on the backcheck, Lucic connected with Satan. The winger flew past Chris Pronger, waited for goalie Brian Boucher to bite on his forehand (puck patience is something Satan has displayed throughout the playoffs), then tucked a backhander behind the goalie at 5:45 to put the Flyers down, 2-1.
It was a lead the Bruins wouldn’t relinquish. Mark Recchi netted a third-period power-play goal. Then Patrice Bergeron buried the little-resistance Flyers with an empty-netter at 18:08 to put the Bruins a skate blade’s width away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals. Game 4 is tomorrow at the Wachovia Center.
“We have to realize that they’re really desperate,’’ said Bergeron. “They’re a great team. They’re tough to beat in this building. Their fans are pretty passionate. We need to be ready. You don’t win a series with three games. So we need that fourth game.’’
As expected of a club down, two games to none, Philadelphia came out knocking heads, dropping bodies, and putting heat on Tuukka Rask early. For the first time in the series, the Flyers scored the opening goal.
Adam McQuaid, holding the right point at the offensive blue line, couldn’t get his body in front of a puck that Pronger had cleared off the glass. Then when Blair Betts gained control of the puck, the fourth-line center threaded a pass past McQuaid to Claude Giroux, springing a two-on-one against Andrew Ference.
Giroux, steaming down the left wing, saucered a pass over Ference’s stick to Arron Asham, who rammed a shot past Rask (34 saves) at 2:32 to give the Flyers a 1-0 edge.
But the Bruins counterpunched before the Flyers could take advantage of the emotional burst. At 4:11, the Bruins tied the score. Six seconds earlier, the goal-scoring sequence started poorly. Marc Savard lost an offensive-zone faceoff to Richards — something he figured was coming.
“I was struggling on that side all series,’’ Savard said of taking faceoffs at the right circle. “I think I’ve been doing well in other places. But on that side and in that corner, I’ve been struggling.
Right before Savard leaned over for the draw, he told Michael Ryder to jump toward the wall in case he lost the faceoff. Which is exactly what happened, allowing Savard to regain control of the puck along the boards.
Once Savard had the puck, he fed Matt Hunwick at the point. Hunwick flung a shot on goal that was sailing wide, but Blake Wheeler, bumped up to Savard’s wing last night, flicked out his stick and redirected the puck past Boucher at 4:11.
“Savvy did a good job on the wall,’’ Wheeler said. “The D tried to reverse it, but he was right there for it. I was expecting him to throw it right at me in front. But he thought better of it and went back up to [Hunwick].
“The guy was right on him, so [Hunwick] did a good job of shooting around the screen. I just tried to get a piece of it. Luckily it went the right way. When it hit the net, I couldn’t believe it. Felt pretty good.’’
Wheeler, who started the series on the fourth line, was elevated once more in the third period. At 0:50, Asham was called for tripping Hunwick. To start the power play, Bruins coach Claude Julien sent out the second unit, which couldn’t solve the Philly penalty killers.
But the No. 1 unit, which featured Wheeler in place of Krejci, gave the Bruins a two-goal lead. Zdeno Chara cranked a shot from the point that bounced off traffic and hit Wheeler in the chest. The puck landed out of Wheeler’s reach, but Recchi, stationed at the right post, beat Kimmo Timonen to the rebound and swept a shot past Boucher at 2:30 to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead.
“It’s obviously good for him,’’ Julien said of Wheeler’s production. “Guys need that kind of confidence when it comes to producing at times. Sometimes it takes one of those games to get those guys going. Sometimes you work hard and don’t get the results you’d like.
“Coaches will watch your play, and as long as you’re giving an effort, everything else you don’t mind. When they get rewarded with what they’re looking for, it’s always great to see that.
“Blake’s a guy that hasn’t let himself get down because of the lower production than he’s used to. He’s stuck with it.’’