In the latest edition of Top Flyte, where Philly Sports Network brings you in-depth analysis of the greatest Philadelphia Flyers games of the 2019-20 season (in no particular order), we take a look at the January 13, 2020 matchup against the Boston Bruins.
This game possessed everything necessary for Top Flyte consideration; the Flyers conquering a first-place team, a thrilling three-goal comeback, plenty of offense, physicality, and of course a massive Brad Marchand blunder. Honestly, the last-mentioned component automatically certifies it as one of the preeminent games of the season, not to mention in all of hockey history.
The two clubs met a total of three times in the shortened schedule of 2019-20. The Flyers secured the series 2-1-0. Philadelphia took Game 1 in Boston by a score of 3-2 in a shoot-out on November 10, 2019. The Bruins later defeated the Flyers 2-0 at the Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2020; ending the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak in what turned out to be the final game of the season for both teams.
That brings us back to Game 2 between these Eastern Conference rivals. Going into January 13th, Boston had collected victories in six of their last nine games. The Flyers, on the other hand, had lost six of their last eight games.
The evening did not get off to a great start for the orange and black. The Bruins would score the first two goals of the opening period: Anders Bjork at 4:15 and David Krejci on the power-play at 16:49.
Kevin Hayes would finally get the good guys on the board with a ferocious one-timer off a nifty Travis Konecny pass during a Flyers power-play. The goal marked number 14 on the season for the 6’5” center from Massachusetts.
Boston would strike first, once again, in the second period. David Pastrnak silenced about 19,000 fans and made it 3-1 Bruins just 33 seconds into the middle stanza.
However, the Flyers faithful would not have to be quiet for too long.
With plenty of traffic in front of Bruins’ goaltender Jaroslav Halak, Travis Sanheim netted a wrister from the slot about forty seconds later to bring the deficit back to just one goal. Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek recorded assists on the play.
The first-place team in the Atlantic Division would continue to display why they were one of the best teams in the NHL. A tally by Boston forward Charlie Coyle and the second goal of the night for David Krejci, made it 5-2 Bruins with 12:39 remaining in the second period.
The Flyers now had a substantial hill to climb, but plenty of time to make something happen. They would have to really grind to get themselves back into the game; something they had been doing so well all year. On this night, there would be no exceptions.
With about seven minutes remaining in the second period, an unwavering Matt Niskanen battled for and retrieved the puck at the far blue line. As the Flyers then made their way into the offensive zone, Jakub Voracek spotted Sean Couturier cutting towards the goal. Coots attempted to move the puck to his backhand but lost control. Somehow, the puck glided underneath Halak and into the goal to cut the Bruins lead to 5-3.
Exactly 94 seconds later, two Flyers who had spent some time in Lehigh Valley this season came together to bring Philadelphia within one goal. Defenseman Mark Friedman fired a shot from the top of the right circle that caromed off rookie forward Connor Bunnaman and into the net for the first NHL goal of Connor’s career.
After a six-goal middle period between the two clubs, only one goal would be recorded in the third period of play. At 12:58, Travis Sanheim fought his way with the puck around the net and after a few shots finally buried his third attempt to tie the score at 5 apiece. Sanheim grinding to score his second goal of the night could not have come at a finer time and it epitomized the Flyers’ play in the second half of the game.
Sixty minutes of regulation and another five minutes of 3-on-3 overtime hockey was not enough to determine a winner on this night. After each team collected a point in the standings, it would take a sudden-death shootout to bring the evening to a conclusion.
Despite each goalie giving up five goals on the night, Carter Hart and Jaroslav Halak decided to put on a goalie clinic during the tiebreaker. The first eight skaters of the shootout (four shooters from each team) were stopped by the opposing netminder. Finally, skater number 9, Flyers’ forward Travis Konecny was able to beat Halak and put one on the board for Philadelphia.
Boston’s Brad Marchand made his way onto the ice and prepared himself to answer T.K.’s tally. A goal meant the shootout would continue; an unsuccessful effort meant victory for the Flyers.
As Marchand attempted to collect the puck on his way to the net, his hockey stick swept over the top of it, just barely touching the vulcanized rubber disc. He had failed to properly gather it with his stick. However, making contact with the puck during his attempt was enough to rule it a miss.
The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins in a shootout by a final score of 6-5. The evening could not have ended on a better note.
What other games from the 2019-20 Flyers season will make the Top Flyte list? Keep a close eye on Philly Sports Network for more of the Top Flyte series as well as the most up-to-date Philadelphia Flyers news and information.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports