Long night for shorthanded defense

By Jon Marks
Globe Correspondent / May 3, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — If the Bruins’ defense rested on this night, you could say it had a legitimate excuse.

But for all the lapses under a thunderous Philadelphia Flyers assault, it really didn’t matter as long as Tim Thomas was back there to bail the team out.

The defense lost one of its mainstays when Adam McQuaid was sent to the hospital after going headfirst into the boards in the first period.

Fortunately, for the weary Bruins’ blue line, Thomas wasn’t catching Z’s while the Flyers bombarded him for 54 shots — 32 just in the final period and overtime.

Yet all the Orange and Black had to show for it was an 0-2 series deficit when David Krejci snapped home the winner past Brian Boucher at 14:00 of the extra session — which had to be confirmed by video review — sending the Bruins home with a pulsating 3-2 win.

That came at the end of a night in which the Flyers came at Thomas in waves, breaking out with odd-man rushes and an occasional breakaway every few shifts, while the Bruins’ back line of Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference, Tomas Kaberle, and Dennis Seidenberg tried to keep them at bay.

It wasn’t easy, but they managed to get the job done.

“Quaider is a big part of our defense core,’’ said Boychuk, who logged 28:50 of ice time, third on the defense behind Seidenberg (36:44) and Chara (31:35). “We just tried to keep short shifts, make sure to change when we can, and try to keep things simple.

“We wanted to get it in deep and spend some more time down there.’’

The Flyers though — particularly forward James van Riemsdyk who scored both Philadelphia goals and was a force all night — had other ideas.

“They came with speed and were beating guys up the ice,’’ said Boychuk.

“[The Flyers] played really well and luckily we had Tim back there or it could’ve been a different story.’’

Getting a few fortunate bounces — like having the puck hop over Danny Briere’s stick just as he was about to bury the winner off a late faceoff — never hurts.

“It went into the high slot and then hit off my foot,’’ said Seidenberg, who broke into the league with the Flyers in 2003 and still has friends in the organization. “Fortunately, it stayed out.

“It’s tough to lose a defenseman, but the guys had to step up. And the other team was doing the same thing. They pretty much only played four.

“You just try not to get caught out of position. We gave them too many odd-man rushes and breakaways. But Timmy made so many great saves.’’

If nothing else, his coach appreciated their effort.

“Our defense did a good job of stepping up,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who said that McQuaid would travel home with the team, though his playing status was uncertain.

“It looked like both teams had a really short bench tonight, and you could tell fatigue was setting in on both sides.’’

Indeed, the jubilant Bruins — particularly the defense — couldn’t wait to hit the sack, after pulling out a game.

“I’ll sleep pretty good,’’ said Ference, smiling.

He and the rest of the Bruins defensemen should. They earned it.

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