Bruins denied in overtime
Richards ends it with :03 left
Based on the scoring chances Marc Savard set up for Michael Ryder and the overall high pace at which he played, last night might have been the playmaker’s best game since returning to the lineup Dec. 2 against Tampa Bay.
Unfortunate, then, that Savard’s giveaway led to Mike Richards’s winning goal with three seconds remaining in overtime.
As the game appeared destined for a shootout, Savard coughed up the puck in the offensive zone. Johnny Boychuk had joined the previous rush, leaving Dennis Seidenberg as the lone man back. So, when Savard’s blind backhanded dish to the point eluded Seidenberg, three Flyers zoomed away for an uh-oh attack against Tim Thomas.
“Obviously, it’s my fault,’’ Savard said. “Johnny had gone down to the net. I just thought Seids was back there, but he was more in the middle. Just made a bad play.’’
Seidenberg tried to take away Richards’s cross-crease pass. It never came. The Philadelphia captain snapped a shot past Thomas to give the Flyers a 2-1 overtime win before 17,565 at TD Garden.
“We still feel like those two points we let go, we had an opportunity to get them and turn it into a positive,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose club recorded five points during its three-game homestand. “At the same time, we didn’t. We’re striving for excellence, and sometimes you want a little more.’’
As the final score indicated, it was an intense tilt that felt like a playoff game. It was especially thrilling framed against Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Islanders, which was duller than a physics textbook. Both teams had Grade-A scoring chances. Thomas and counterpart Brian Boucher turned back shots that should have been goals. Respective horses Zdeno Chara (seven shots) and Chris Pronger (six) ripped away from the point.
And, as always, there was plenty of hitting — including one blast that could have turned out far worse.
Early in the second period, as Adam McQuaid raced back during an icing call at full speed, Philadelphia tough guy Jody Shelley shoved the defenseman from behind. The hit launched McQuaid facefirst into the end boards in approximately the same location where ex-Flyer Randy Jones belted Patrice Bergeron into the wall Oct. 27, 2007.
Fortunately, McQuaid came out of the hit in better shape than Bergeron. After spending several minutes on the ice, McQuaid skated off slowly with help from Chara and David Krejci. McQuaid returned later in the period and finished the game.
“I didn’t go in on my own,’’ McQuaid said. “I felt like I got pushed. I don’t know, I’m not sure. I’d have to take a look at it.’’
Shelley was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. Shelley doesn’t have a reputation for dirty play, but it was an unacceptable play, as McQuaid wasn’t even the closest Bruin to the puck. Andrew Ference touched it to get the icing call.
“I didn’t think there was any need for it,’’ said Julien. “I don’t know what the intention was. But certainly there was no need for that at all. That’s one of the things we’re trying to get out of our game. I know Shelley a little bit from a long time ago. He’s actually a good person. To me, he’s a tough guy. But I don’t know that he’s always purposely gone out there to injure people like that. So I found that a little bit strange that he would do that. It’s unfortunate. It’s uncalled for. Hopefully, the league deals with it in the proper way. We’ll go from there.’’
The Bruins didn’t score on the five-minute power play. Later in the second, the Flyers struck first to claim a 1-0 lead. Claude Giroux kicked off the sequence with a cross-ice, backhanded flip to an in-stride Jeff Carter. As Carter carried the puck down the left wing, Braydon Coburn drove to the net, sucking in Seidenberg and Ference. With Coburn providing middle drive, it opened up a passing lane for Carter to find James van Riemsdyk in the slot. Thomas had the forward’s shot lined up, but temporarily lost sight of the puck. In that moment, van Riemsdyk snapped off a shot that ticked off Thomas’s glove and into the net at 18:39.
The Bruins rallied in the third after Chara pinched down the wall to keep the puck in the zone. After a scramble in front, Nathan Horton found the loose puck and whipped a shot over Boucher at 9:43, making it 1-1.
It would be the only time the Bruins solved Boucher. The Rhode Island native, who sprained his left knee against the Bruins in last year’s playoffs, stopped 35 shots, including both that came his way in overtime.
“It definitely had that playoff feel,’’ said Boucher. “It’s a great atmosphere. We were able to weather the storm for the most part. Obviously, they got one there in the third. But we stayed with it, and to get the two points in overtime was big.’’