Flyers grind out key 3-2 win over Boston

John Tortorella

PHILADELPHIA – With all due credit to publisher Thomas Payne, these are the times that try hockey players’ souls.

With the Flyers playing the NHL-leading Boston Bruins in an intense Saturday afternoon/every-point-is-critical encounter at the Wells Fargo Center, the home team showed its mettle with a grinding 3-2 win.

The two points, which have huge implications in the chase for a playoff spot, move the Flyers four points ahead of the idle Washington Capitals for third place (the last guaranteed playoff spot) in the Metropolitan Division.

The game was decided on a goal by Tyson Foerster with 1:29 to play. Foerster rushed down the left side and beat goalie Linus Ullmark far side from the faceoff circle.

A goal by Travis Konecny, his second of the game and 30th of the season, at 15:16 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie. But the Bruins came right back on a goal by Danton Heinen at 16:12 tied the score again.

Foerster called it the biggest goal of his rookie season.

“I think so,” he said. As for the tight checking, he added: “I looked up (at the scoreboard) in the second period and the shots were 11-11. I was surprised but that’s the game we wanted to play. They’re high skilled and I thought we did a great job.”

Flyers goaltender Samuel Ersson recorded the win. It’s just the third time the Bruins have lost consecutive games in regulation time this season.

“I think everyone realized these were huge points,” Ersson said. “We feel that and it’s fun to play. I think we kept the game where we wanted it. We didn’t give them much at all. They came back two times and it can be frustrating mentally but I think we did what we’ve done all year long, played a good third period, stuck with it and got a good result.”

The Flyers held a 1-0 lead until the Bruins’ Justin Brazeau scored at 10:19 of the third period.

At various times in this game the physical contact was practically vicious. Every foot of ice had to be earned, the goaltending was superb and a full house certainly got its money’s worth.

Defenseman Erik Johnson has only been here a couple weeks but he’s seen how close-knit this team is. A game like Saturday’s showed the Flyers were very mistake-free and looked comfortable doing it.

As for the seven-game stretch against elite, playoff-bound teams, the Flyers are now 2-2-1 and the latest victory confirmed their confidence.

“It had that feel, that atmosphere, I think,” Johnson said. “And it’s great for our younger team. A lot of guys haven’t experienced that. To go through these experiences, it’s really paramount for development. It had that feel, like a playoff game for us. Those are the fun ones for us and we’re going to be playing games like that down the stretch. We played the way we had to and found a way.”

Although the Flyers rank last in the NHL on the power play, a man-advantage opportunity proved crucial in breaking a scoreless tie late in the second period.

The power play was created when defenseman Andrew Peeke caught Noah Cates in the upper body with a high stick with 3:17 left in the session.

On the power play, Scott Laughton took control along the boards and dished the puck to Foerster at the top of the right circle. Without hesitation, Foerster relayed to Konecny for a quick putaway by Konecny at 18:15.

A scoreless first period featured a number of scoring chances but both Ersson and Ullmark were up to the task.

One incident highlighted the intensity of the rivalry between the two teams. With time running down, Boston’s Brad Marchand attempted to weave past Johnson at center ice.

Johnson stuck out his leg and caught Marchand on the knee. Marchand crumpled to the ice in discomfort, then proceeded to yell at the officials when they didn’t whistle a penalty. For that, Marchand himself wound up in the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Coach John Tortorella basically couldn’t find fault with anything the Flyers did in this game.

“The thing I take out of the game is two games in a row now our third period has been our strongest period,” he said. “I thought we took over the game in Carolina (which they eventually lost in overtime) and we give up a couple goals in the third period in this game but territorially and the chances, it was a real good third period by the whole group.”

It’s been quite a turnaround after giving up six goals to both Tampa and Toronto at the start of this stretch.

“I think it’s team defense,” Tortorella said. “I think it’s really important with the change in personnel and some of the youth back there (Adam Ginning, Ronnie Allard) that it (forwards/defense) needs to be connected. I don’t see any nerves. So high marks. That (Boston) is a really good hockey team.”

Short shots

The Flyers get right back into action on Sunday night when the Florida Panthers visit (6 p.m. start). The Flyers have won their only two meetings with the Panthers this season, both games played in Florida. The Flyers are 5-3-2 in the second half of back-to-backs this season. . .Garnet Hathaway entered the game ranked second in NHL hits with 276. . .The Flyers’ 15 shorthanded goals are the most they have registered since they posted 16 in the 2008-09 season. . .Morgan Frost entered Saturday’s game with a five-game point streak, tying his career high

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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.