FFR2 Gm 17: PHI 3, BOS 2 (SO) - Boston Hartathon
What ya gonna do when (extreme Boston accent) Cahtah Haart's staring down you???
For the fourth straight time, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 3-2 in shootout style for the second consecutive game, over the Boston Bruins, handing the B's their 3rd straight loss.
In a game featuring the oldest active NHL player in Zdeno Chara (42, or approximately 874 in giraffe years, which Chara might actually be), it was the kids that shined the brightest for the victorious Flyers. Anytime you're playing on the second half of a back-to-back, it's crucial to start well. Obviously, it's important to do that in every game, but it's magnified in a back-to-back because fatigue sets in quickly and it's much harder to control play in the 3rd period than the 1st.
The Flyers accomplished that goal by scoring 2 goals in the first 21 minutes for the third straight game. After beginning the contest by throwing the puck so quickly it seemed like hot potato, the Flyers created a quality chance by forcing a turnover at their own blueline. Sean Couturier launched the initial shot on the 3-on-1 rush, the rebound caromed off Lindblom's skate, and TK put up top shelf past Halak to start the scoring.
Philadelphia kept getting stronger and even more dominant as the period moved on. The Bruins sloppiness also picked up as the period progressed, and eventually, the inevitable happened. Zdeno Chara turned the puck over behind his own net, which led to TK gaining control. He whipped the puck cross-ice to Phil Myers who, rather than blindly fling the puck on net, took a sec, walked in from the wall, froze everyone with his 6 foot 5 inches of pure skill and SNIPED far post and in past Halak, doubling up the Flyers lead.
The second period was pretty even. Both teams came oh-so close to adding to the score-sheet, but to no avail. Boston actually poked the puck over the goal line early in the period, but it was called back to due to some pretty blatant goalie interference. Late in the frame, Claude Giroux took a pretty pass from Farabee and danced around the Boston defense en route to a breakaway, but failed to score on his backhand. Again, not too bad considering the opponent and the circumstances.
Unfortunately, the game continue to seesaw from in the Flyers control to pretty even all the way to Boston domination. Score effects, home-ice advantage, and a day of rest were just too much for the Flyers to overcome. Danton Heinen spun and scored from in tight 6 minutes in, putting the Flyers on notice. Philly just didn't have the energy to keep up. Sure enough, Boston's vaunted Perfection Line finally broke through on a snipe through traffic by Brad Marchand with 7:39 to go.
But the worst was yet to come. A few minutes later, David Pastrnak was slashed after receiving a long stretch pass. Pasta had just enough of a step on Provorov to draw the dreaded referee's point to center - penalty shot. Against any other Flyers goalie this decade, there's no doubt that puck was going on. Pastrnak weaved in, made a backhand-forehand move, but then, an epiphany. This wasn't Michael Leighton, or Rob Zepp, or Alex Lyon in net. This was Starter Hart, in all his glory, stretching out with his left pad to keep the game knotted up!
The Bruins weren't done yet, as Oskar Lindblom took a tripping penalty with 3:20 left, sending the league's top power play to the ice. But the Flyers stellar penalty kill, which is clearly a strength of this year's squad, stepped up. Of course, your goalie has to be your best penalty killer, and Hart absolutely was. Starter Hart made incredible cross-crease saves on consecutive one-timers from Bergeron backdoor and Pastrnak from his wheelhouse. Hart only faced 10 shots through the first 40 minutes; he then saw 17 in the 3rd, and each of his 15 saves were timely and impressive.
Overtime started fast with both teams getting some quality chances. The Flyers had a couple early 2-on-1s, but failed to get a shot on goal in either. Charlie McAvoy had a great chance in the first minute for Boston, but Hart shut him down. For the fourth time in six games: shootout time!
Shootout Summary (yay, again)
BOS: Why would you ever choose to go first? Whatever, we went over this yesterday. Charlie Coyle tried to outreach Hart on a backhand-forehand deke, but Hart used every last bit of his 6'2'' frame, making a left skate save.
PHI: In the city where he dominated in college last year, Joel Farabee picked up right where he left off! With just a hint of Datsyuk in him, Farabee took something off his wrist shot, chipping it over Halak's glove! 1-0 Flyers.
BOS: Brad Marchand comes down like a rat chasing for cheese and snapped a quick wrister off Hart's right pad. And then decided to snap the rebound on net just for fun, which hit Hart's left pad. That's three saves. The Flyers have scored. Why isn't this game over?
PHI: Working off his move against Toronto, G went with a fake slapper to a wrist shot on Halak. Unfortunately, Halak apparently doesn't watch highlights, as the fake had little effect and he shrugged off the shot with his right shoulder.
BOS: The game was over the very second Bruce Cassidy sent Pastrnak out against Hart a second time. There was no way Hart was allowing Pastrnak to get revenge. A poke check bid from Starter messed with Pastrnak just enough, causing his backhander to hit the side of the net.
PHI: Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
That's right folks, the Flyers just swept one of the hardest back-to-backs you can have in the NHL, beating Toronto and Boston on the road in consecutive nights. Forget the 3rd period collapses - yes, they need to clean that up, but tonight was the only game where they didn't play well in the 3rd. That's special. Not a lot of teams can do that. Most (if not all) bad ones can't.
The Flyers should be on cloud nine right now, not just because the standings say they're good, but because they deserve to be good with how they've played nearly every game. They put in the work over the summer, bought into the coaching staff, didn't lose faith when things weren't going their way, and now they're 4th in the East.
There's still a long way to go, and the coming week will be tough with home games against league-best Washington Wednesday and the red hot Islanders, the latter the day after a game in Ottawa. But play like this will turn doubters into believers, and the Flyers from tough luck losers to triumphant winners more often than not. As another guy who likes beating Boston will tell you, sometimes you've gotta trust the process, and the wins will start to come.
Phil Myers is the first Flyers defenseman to score in three straight games since Mark Howe (March 3-7, 1987). Only seven Flyers defenseman have ever done it, and only Howe has had a longer streak (4 games in the 1985-86 season).
Keith Jones during the broadcast on Myers: "I think he's gonna be a star." Join the club, Jonesey. Phil has looked great the last few games, proving he's not only too good for the AHL, but a very good NHLer. He played 19:40 in this game, showing the coaching staff agrees with Keith and us. And he certainly earned the POG helmet.
Speaking of right-handed defenseman, I actually haven't hated Justin Braun's game so far this year. Yes, he's been on the ice for a lot of goals against, but Flyers goalies have a lower save percentage with Braun on the ice than any other player despite his strong 53.71 xGF%. But he wasn't on his A-game in Boston. Braun made a blind pass that turned into a dangerous turnover leading to the Bruins waved off goal. And he lost the net-front battle with Heinen on the Bruins first goal. Not his best showing.
Up front, one player that needs to step it up is Kevin Hayes. He's been held off the scoresheet in each of his last 7 games, and while I thought he played solid Sunday and he does a lot more than just score to help the Flyers need more than .41 points per game going forward.
In addition to fatigue and all of those other things going against them, the Bruins are just tough team to score on late. They have given up just 11 third period goals, the 2nd fewest in the NHL.
The Flyers became the first visiting team to score first in TD Garden in 9 games this season.
Despite having literally every chance to light the lamp, from penalty shot to power play to shootout, David Pastrnak (who recently had a 13-game point streak end) failed to score for the first time at home all season (per Jordan Hall).
It's hard to put how deadly the Bruins first line, aka the Perfection Line (Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and noted rat Brad Marchand), is in numbers, but I might have one that does. Since the beginning of the 17-18 season, they have unsurprisingly scored more than any other line.
This is the first time that the Flyers have won at least 10 of their first 17 games since 2011-12. Which is also the last time they won a playoff round. Coincidence? I think not.
1st - Joel Farabee (PHI) - Shootout Winner
2nd - Travis Konecny (PHI) - 1 Goal, 65.38 CF%, 70.19 xGF%
3rd - Brad Marchand (BOS) - 1 Goal, 52.94 CF%
PHI - 11/13 vs. WSH (13-2-3, W6)
BOS - 11/12 vs. FLA (8-4-5, W1)
Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com
Thumbnail Photo: Michael Dwyer, AP