The Philadelphia Flyers (31-27-8) enter the game against the Boston Bruins, with their playoff hopes on the line. Their playoff hopes are fading after Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are riding on a roller coaster the last 14 games, going 5-7-2 during that stretch.
Its a second half run that leads to the playoffs, and the Flyers look to make a late push. They open play Saturday five points behind the New York Islanders for the last playoff spot.
Head coach Dave Hakstol spoke to the media last night and had this to say, “It sticks with you. It eats at you. I’m sure a lot of guys probably didn’t have a great night of sleep last night, but you’ve got to wake up today. That’s what the workday today was all about — clearing your mind, clearing your plate, getting ready for the next one tomorrow. Is it cliché? Absolutely, but before the game yesterday we had gotten seven out of eight points. Most important two points are the next ones up. That doesn’t change.”
Those words must have stuck with Flyers because they were good against the Bruins. They needed a complete effort to save their playoff hopes. Unfortunately, they were defeated with a complete team effort 2-1 . Steve Mason came into the game 3-0-1 in his last four starts, and he was nothing short of phenmonenal making 25 saves keeping the Flyers hopes high for a playoff stretch run.
The Flyers came out of the gate flying, and looked to set the tone early. Brandon Manning looked to pump up his group with dropping the gloves against a much bigger Matt Beleskey. Manning lost the fight, but the players enjoyed it with slamming their sticks against the boards for his effort.
Radko Gudas took the Flyers first penalty of the night early in the first period. On the ensuing power play, the Bruins managed two shots on net, but Mason made both saves keeping the game scoreless.
Bradon Carlo took the first penalty of the night for the Bruins, with 5:52 remaining in the period. On the ensuing power play, within 17 seconds Brad Marchand hi-sticked Shayne Gostisbehere, giving the Flyers a two man advantage. The Flyers peppered Tuuka Rask with seven shots on net, but Rask made all seven saves keeping the game scoreless.
With the Flyers flying after the power plays, their hopes seemed to waver when Travis Konecny was called for a tripping penalty with 2:53 left in the period. Just 1:12 into the power play, David Pastrnak pounced home a one timer from a nice pass by Marchand. It was Pastrnak’s 28th goal of the year, and it gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The first period came to a close with the Bruins leading 1-0. Despite splitting the faceoff margin 50%-50%, the Flyers dominated the majority of the period. They outshot the Bruins 14-11, giving them some hope for the second period.
With the Flyers playoff hopes wavering going into the second period, the feel good Flyers perseverance never seemed to fade. They dominated the first minute of play, and it led to their first goal. Rask made a nice early pad save off Wayne Simmonds. Jordan Weal found the rebound and slammed home his 3rd goal of the year, tying the game at 1.
Towards the end of the second period, the Flyers were clicking on all cylinders. However, Weal was called for a hooking penalty. The Bruins managed just one shot on net for the power play, but Mason made the easy save keeping the score tied at 1.
The Flyers man handled the Bruins with their dominate play in the second period, and it ended with the score tied at 1. They fired 9 shots on net for the period. The Bruins did win the faceoff margin 54%-46%, while firing 4 shots on net.
A new period allowed the Bruins to regain their skating legs. They were out shooting the Flyers 4-0, through the first ten minutes of the third period.
With the game appearing to go into overtime, Drew Stafford took a bouncing wrist shot towards the net with heavy traffic in front of Mason. The puck found its way past Mason with 5.6 seconds remaining in the game. The goal gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
The Bruins outplayed the Flyers in the third period, and they came away with a 2-1 win. The Flyers did tie the Bruins in shots with 27, but lost the faceoff margin 56%-44%.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Flyers put forth a solid effort. Mason was great, and the defense was good. These are some positives to take away from the game. It’s not over till it’s over. They still have a shot at the playoffs.
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Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports