Flyers prove they can play with the NHL's best in 4-3 shootout loss to Boston
PHILADELPHIA – Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.
The Flyers went toe-to-toe with the best team in hockey, scored a late goal to tie the game on guts and determination, and dominated an overtime period.
And yet, they couldn’t pull off the win.
They did earn a critical point, one that moved them into a tie for second place in the Metropolitan Division, but Boston goalie Tuukka Rask was sensational.
The Bruins won it 4-3 in a five-round shootout and did so behind 49 saves by Rask.
The Flyers fired a season high 52 shots on net including an impressive 8-1 advantage in overtime, but Rask was the difference.
“I thought our team competed real hard,” coach Craig Berube said. “They had an attitude today that they were going to go and show themselves and I thought that they did. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted but we attacked and had a lot of pucks on net. We competed hard. You’ve got to compete real hard against that team or you’re in trouble.”
The Flyers gave it everything they had in the third period to tie it and got it when Vinny Lecavalier scored in the final minute. It was his second goal of the game. He also tallied the first goal of the game with a wrister from just inside the blue line which was the 400th goal of his illustrious NHL career. He became just the 90th player in league history to reach that milestone.
“I’ve always said that about this team since I first got here,” said Lecavalier, who is proving to be more than a fourth line center for the Flyers. “Even in training camp these guys in here never give up. I’ve played with a lot of players in my career and I can tell… guys are hungry. It doesn’t matter, some games are down 3-0 or whatever the score is, and they just keep coming. We keep rolling. We keep going. It shows the character in this room and I think it has helped us a lot this year.”
Speaking of character, the Flyers also got a goal from Kimmo Timonen to lead 2-1 after one period.
Timonen has been on top of his game since returning from the Olympics. He has three goals and nine assists for 12 points in 14 games since winning the Bronze Medal with Team Finland.
Despite Timonen’s goal – and the Flyers lead after one period, Boston stormed back in the second to take the lead on goals by Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron.
But the Flyers were sensational in the final 25 minutes, out-shooting the Bruins 25-7 in that span.
Again, Rask was the difference, with perhaps his most impressive save stopping Brayden Schenn on a breakaway late in the third period.
|Vinny Lecavalier watches as his 400th career goal blows past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. He is the 90th plaer in NHL history to reach 400 goals. (Len Redkoles/NHLI)
Once the game went to a shootout, Rask only allowed one goal – a beauty of a backhander by Claude Giroux, but was able to stop attempts by Lecavalier, Michael Raffl, Matt Read and Jake Voracek.
Steve Mason, who had 27 saves in the game, made a few nice stops in the shootout, but allowed the game-winner to Reilly Smith.
“I think the guys worked extremely hard,” Mason said. “We had over 50 shots on net. It shows the kind of pressure we were putting on them for the majority of the game. Right now they’re the number-one team in the league, and the guys were going toe-to-toe with them. It’s a good sign.”
The Flyers (39-27-8, 86 points) technically moved ahead of the New York Rangers via tiebreaker rules, but the Rangers play later Sunday evening.
Still, an effort like this, while it ultimately ended in defeat, was a positive for the Flyers, who are 6-2-1 in the first nine games of this 12-game stretch of games that was considered the make-or-break point of the season for the team, and it guaranteed they will have at least a plus-.500 points percentage in the “Dirty Dozen” by earning a point against the Bruins.
The Flyers also lowered their magic number to clinch a playoff berth to 10 points, meaning points earned by the #Flyers or lost by the Capitals in the next two weeks totaling 10 would clinch a playoff spot.
NOTES: The 52 shots for the Flyers are the most they’ve had in a game since they recorded 55 in a 5-4 overtime win at Winnipeg on Feb. 21, 2012. It’s the most they’ve had in a home game since they recorded 55 in a 4-1 win over Phoenix on January 28, 1997. Every skater on the Flyers’ roster recorded at least one shot…Lecavalier recorded his second multi-goal game of the season and his first since recording a hat trick on October 26 against the Islanders. He took a team-high nine shots, which is the most he’s had in a game since taking 12 for Tampa Bay in a game vs. Ottawa on March 11, 2011. It’s the 10th time in his career that Lecavalier has posted nine or more shots in a game…The game was really physical as the two teams combined for 87 hits (BOS 44, Flyers 43), which is the highest total number of hits in a Flyers game this season. The Toronto game on Friday was the second highest at 79 (44 TOR, 39 Flyers)… Andrej Meszaros scored the first Boston goal. He was the fourth former Flyer to score a goal against the Flyers in the last three games (Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and James van Riemsdyk).
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