The Boston Bruins will not go undefeated against the Philadelphia Flyers this season, but they will extend their season point streak against Philly to seven games, after splitting a home and home set with them. The Bruins dropped Monday night’s bout 3-2 in overtime after taking a 2-1 lead into the third, but recovered with a 4-2 win Tuesday due in large part to a hat trick from Patrice Bergeron and a 40 save NHL debut for Jeremy Swayman. The Bruins stronger all around game was Monday night despite losing the game. Tuesday’s game was sloppy defensively as the Flyers clearly came into the game with a plan to pepper the rookie in net with as many shots as possible, which would have been effective if Swayman didn’t make a few high quality saves.
Heading into Monday night, the Bruins received the news that goalie Jaro Halak had tested positive for COVID-19, meaning that Dan Vladar would be the starting goalie, along with Jeremy Swayman coming up from the AHL to take over the duties of backup goalie. The Bruins came out with a relatively neutral first period in front of Vladar, with the one blatant mistake coming on the first goal of the game for the Flyers. Travis Konecny opened up the scoring when he tapped in a rebound past Vladar after being left open in the slot. With no black shirt in sight he was able to give Philly a 1-0 lead that could have been avoided had he been covered by a backchecking forward. The Bruins would answer towards the end of the first however when Karson Kuhlman sniped home his second goal of the season past Flyers goalie Brian Elliot.
The Bruins would come out firing in the second and quickly score on the powerplay less than a minute into the period as Patrice Bergeron deflected a shot from David Pastrnak past Elliot to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. The B’s would hold that lead until the third period when Sean Couturier scored a power play goal to tie it up. Shot from the top of the faceoff dot, the puck beat Vladar over his glove hand as he was being screened. The third period would end in a stalemate with neither team being able to get the upper hand for the rest of the period, so the game would head to overtime.
Puck possession is key when playing 3-on-3 and the Bruins made a critical turnover that led to the game winning goal for Travis Sanheim. Patrice Bergeron was set up at the point when he received a pass from Matt Grzelcyk. He teed up an ill-advised one-timer that was blocked by Sanheim which led to a breakaway goal for the Philly forward who beat Dan Vladar on a wrister to the top left corner.
The Bruins played a decent overall game on Monday, certainly well enough to win but turnovers at bad times once again caused the Bruins to drop a winnable game. Turnovers and poor breakouts from the defensive zone have been the biggest problem for the Bruins this year outside of scoring 5-on-5. The Bruins have left far too many points on the board in the standings due to sloppy defensive play, which despite coming from Bergeron Monday, has typically come from young players like Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Trent Frederic. These guys have been good players all year long and have filled in important roles for the team, but being more responsible with the puck is the biggest thing they need to work on, because otherwise they have been important assets to the team.
Tuesday night, with rookie Jeremy Swayman in net, the Bruins played a strong first period and jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead behind goals from Captain Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron tucked in his first goal of the night in front of the net off of a rebound and later scored his second in his trademark bumper position on the powerplay. Going into the second, the Bruins had all the momentum and had the potential to put the game away with a quick goal or two. The second period would prove to be all Philly though as the Bruins couldn’t protect the lead and surrendered an astounding 25 shots in the frame. Swayman kept the Bruins in the game however, and both teams went into the third with two goals a piece.
The Bruins did what they have failed to do at times this season, and that is finish a game with a strong third period when the game really could have gone either way after the way the first two periods went. Brad Marchand opened the third period scoring with a shorthanded goal, the 29th of his career. Patrice Bergeron would complete the hat trick with an empty net goal, sending the Bruins home with a 4-2 win.
Tuesday Night was Jeremy Swayman’s NHL debut and boy did he impress a lot of people. The native Alaskan saved 40 of 42 shots, making sound positional saves as well as some that changed the tone of the game. His most notable save came in the first when he denied a breakaway chance which the Bruins then transitioned into a goal for themselves. If he lets that puck in, it’s a 1-1 game in the first as opposed to a 2-0 lead for the Bruins and who knows how it would have gone after that.
The Bruins took 3 of 4 possible points from Philly and they now sit 5 points ahead of them in the final playoff spot. They will head to D.C. for a big showdown against the current top team in the east, the Washington Capitals, with a chance to make up some ground in the playoff standings.
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