The Bruins faced a one-goal deficit in the third period to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. It was, of course, child’s play.
After James van Riemsdyk broke a scoreless tie with a power-play goal 27 second into the third period, the B’s top line willed home the equalizer with Brad Marchand getting his stick on it in a crease scrum. Then, 27 seconds later, Sean Kuraly took a feed from Anders Bjork and beat Flyer goalie Brian Elliott with a blast off the far post and in at 12:28 to lift the B’s to a 2-1 win at Wells Fargo Center.
It was the fifth time this year that the B’s erased a third goal deficit to take points (4-0-1) after having wiped out a two-goal deficit to the Flyers on Wednesday and a pair 3-0 holes to the Capitals earlier on this trip.
“I think we’re just deep, and we have the belief in our room that we’re never out of a game. We almost seem to play a little bit better when we’re down,” said Marchand, who scored his seventh goal of the season. “We just know that we that we can come back from any situation. When we play our game, when we play the way we know we can, we’re a tough team to play and we’re going to create opportunities. At some point, they’ll break. It may not happen in the first or second, but we’re going to break teams and that’s what’s happening.”
There were some hairy moments, especially when Craig Smith took a tripping penalty with 3:57 left in regulation. But thanks to some solid work by Tuukka Rask — whose stop on Joel Farabee’s second period penalty was one of 23 saves — the B’s were able to kill that off, as well as the final 1:57 with Elliott pulled for the extra skater.
The win extended the B’s point streak to eight games (7-0-1) as the they go into a four-day break due to the postponement of the scheduled series against Buffalo.
The B’s penalty kill (4-for-5) came up big, especially in the first period when they paraded to the box late in the period, when they had to kill off a lengthy 4-on-3.
“It’s huge. We rely on our penalty kill. We know we’ve got a job. There are a couple of groups of forwards,” said Kuraly. “We know the power-play does a job and we’ve got a job to do, too. We go through our video with (assistant coach) Joe Sacco and we take pride in that. Everyone on this team thinks they have a role and a job and everyone knows what everyone’s job is. The power-play love it when we get a penalty kill and the penalty kill guys love it when they score a goal. And they score a lot of goals, so we’ve got to get some kills.”
It was also big night for Connor Clifton, though he didn’t figure in the scoring. In the first period, he dropped the gloves with Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who’d been racking up hits in the two-game series, and rocked the Flyer with a couple of early rights. He was credited with three hots and was active in the offensive zone all night.
“I think you can see what we love about Cliffy,” said Kuraly. “He’s a competitor and we call him Cliffy Hockey. He just goes out and plays. He lets it rip and we love it. He’s a guy you love having on your team. I don’t like practicing against him, and I love playing with him.”
Coach Bruce Cassidy had to break some eggs to make this particular omelet. The van Riemsdyk power-play goal was a result of a retaliatory penalty from Chris Wagner with two seconds left in the second period. It was the second such penalty Wagner took on the night, having nullified a Bruin power-play in the first period when he threw a punch at Travis Sanheim when he took exception to a Sanheim hit at the whistle.
Wagner did not play in the third period, and Cassidy said it wasn’t injury-related.
“Nope, he’s fine,” said Cassidy.
At first it looked like the comeback might be tough. The Flyers were playing a stouter defensive game than they usually do, but the B’s kept leaning on them and leaning on them in their zone until they final broke through. David Pastrnak’s shot produced a big rebound off Elliott and both Patrice Bergeron and Marchand crashed the net. Marchand was able to reach the loose puck before Elliott and jammed it home. Then Kuraly scored, the B’s hung on and they headed home in first place with seven of a possible eight points on the difficult road trip.
Not too shabby.