Bruins respond unquestionably well vs. Flyers
PHILADELPHIA - Yesterday afternoon, when Billy Cundiff shanked the Patriots into the Super Bowl, bellows exploded in the visiting dressing room at the Wells Fargo Center. The Bruins were howling for their New England counterparts, but they were also celebrating their 6-5 shootout win over the Flyers - one, amid a second-period meltdown, that didn’t appear to be in their future.
“I wasn’t a very happy coach after the second period,’’ said Claude Julien, who saw his club turn a 3-1 second-period lead into a 4-3 deficit. “This is where the team responds. They responded to what I had to say. They went out there and found a way to win.
“I guess we could have avoided that had we been better in the second. But when you’re not, you’ve got to find a way out of the hole you dug yourselves in. Our guys did that.’’
The Bruins, legless and heartless in the second, regrouped in the third. A late Maxime Talbot deflection negated third-period strikes by David Krejci and Gregory Campbell, sending the game into overtime. The Flyers fought off an OT holding call on Kimmo Timonen to prompt the shootout.
It was up to Krejci and Tyler Seguin to solve Ilya Bryzgalov in the shootout. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia’s No. 2 shooter, beat Tim Thomas with a slick backhand roof job. But Thomas turned aside Wayne Simmonds to backstop his club to the 2-point decision.
“We had a great first period,’’ said Milan Lucic, who recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal and fight in the first period, assist in the third). “Then our intensity dropped. We started to play soft. We took too many penalties. We got ourselves in trouble. The good thing is we were able to refocus and pull this one out.’’
Nathan Horton didn’t play in the third period because of a head injury. At 2:53 of the second, Tom Sestito connected with a blind-side hit on Horton. He finished with zero shots in 11:51 of ice time and was unavailable for comment after the game. Julien didn’t know whether Horton would be available tomorrow against Washington.
During last year’s Stanley Cup Final, Horton was diagnosed with a severe concussion in Game 3 when he was blasted by Aaron Rome. Julien didn’t say whether Horton’s latest head injury resulted in a concussion.
“I guess we’ll find out in the next few days here,’’ Julien said. “But we certainly didn’t allow him to come back and play this game.’’
Horton didn’t care for the hit and went after Sestito. Horton was called for interference, while Lucic and Marc-Andre Bourdon went off with matching roughing minors. At 3:23, on the ensuing power play, Giroux and Scott Hartnell connected for the first of three second-period strikes.
Just over four minutes later, Giroux set up Hartnell again - a wrister that deflected off Adam McQuaid - to tie the game at 3. Shawn Thornton fought Jody Shelley off the following faceoff.
Then at 19:13 of the second, with Lucic in the box for interference, Giroux and Hartnell clicked one last time as Hartnell snapped a one-timer past Thomas (33 saves) to bring the hats tumbling onto the ice.
While Horton’s retaliation started Philadelphia’s comeback, Julien didn’t mind his player sticking up for himself. Earlier in the game, after Brayden Schenn walloped Steven Kampfer, Chris Kelly challenged the Philadelphia rookie. When Hartnell belted Kelly later, Thornton came calling and delivered several punches to the long-haired winger’s face.
“When you look back, he got up and took a penalty,’’ Julien said of Horton. “But we looked at the replay. When he’s been through what he’s been through last year, with a blind-side hit, I don’t blame him for doing that job. If I was in his shoes, I probably would have done the same thing.
“That’s the thing with our team. He took care of his own stuff. When Kelly got hit, Thorny went over and stood up for him. That’s what we do. We stick up for each other. Sometimes it may get us in trouble. But in the long run, we’re a team and we believe in our team concept.’’
Because of the attention elsewhere, the Bruins were most likely playing in a friends-and-family game yesterday.
“It was entertaining,’’ Lucic said. “Too bad everyone was watching the Pats game. It was definitely a wild one.’’