Boston, MA- It took forty minutes and change, but the Boston Bruins finally broke through on five-on-five. And then the floodgates opened. Despite Boston’s offensive outpouring in the third period, the Philadelphia Flyers were equally adept at finding the back of the net. Tuukka Rask (22 saves) was a wall when it mattered, and Jake DeBrusk beat Carter Hart in the shootout to give the Bruins the crucial extra point in the 5-4 win in the Bruins return to TD Garden.
Brett Ritchie was the offensive catalyst for the Bruins, notching a goal and assisting on his way to garnering First Star honors. The 6′-2″ forward seems to be finding a groove with the team after having a training camp to acclimate. The 34-year-old was acquired at last season’s trade deadline and never really found his way due to the COVID work stoppage.
The Bruins controlled play in the opening period, but their lack of finish around the goal was the recurring theme as they outshot the Flyers 14-3. Even with two power-plays in the frame, Boston was unable to solve Hart (39 saves)
Bruins center David Krejci went to the penalty box for High-Sticking, giving the Flyers the man advantage. Philly’s Claude Giroux made Boston pay 6:17 of the second period. The 14-year winger beat Rask with a wrist shot from the left face-off dot. Giroux’s second of the season was the first power-play goal that Boston has allowed in 2021 (2-18).
James van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 Flyers when he banged in a Jakub Voracek pass past Rask at 17:31. Kevin Hayes assisted on van Riemsdyk’s second of the year as well.
Just 57 seconds into the third, the Bruins capitalized on the five-on-five when Jack Studnicka notched his first NHL goal by tapping his own rebound past Hart. Studnicka had body position on Flyers forward Nolan Patrick when he corralled a Krejci pass down low. Hart made the initial stop, but the second-round pick in the 2017 draft was able to knock in the loose puck. Krejci and Ritchie assisted.
The Bruins were buzzing now that they’d broken their even-strength bugaboo. It didn’t take long before Charlie Coyle made it a 2-2 game. Coyle gathered a rebound of a Craig Smith drive to the right of goal and fired off a turn-around shot through Hart’s legs. Coyle’s first of the year was assisted by Smith and Kevan Miller at 2:06.
The Flyers pulled ahead at 7:13 on a fluke goal by defenseman Travis Sanheim. The 6′-3″ Manitoban jumped into the rush as Voracek held the puck just inside the Bruins zone. Voracek threw the puck into the zone, and it careened off of Sanheim’s skate and through Rask’s legs for the 3-2 lead. Assist went to Voracek and Patrick on Sanheim’s first of the year.
Philly center Scott Laughton was called for Cross-Checking at 13:04. Boston’s power-play unit only needed 18 seconds to tie the game at three apiece. Ritchie lifted a Patrice Bergeron pass off Hart’s glove and into the net for his second PPG of the year. Bergeron had a shot blocked, gathered his rebound, and dished to a wide-open Ritchie at the side of the Flyers net.
The Bruins took their only lead of the night at 15:18 when defenseman Brandon Carlo blasted a one-timer from the top of the left circle past Hart to make it 4-3. Matt Grzelcyk and Brad Marchand assisted on Carlo’s first of the season. Grzelcyk had taken a spill into the boards in the second period and was shaken-up on the play but toughed out the remainder of regulation play.
Sean Kuraly was whistled for Cross-Checking just eight seconds after the Bruins goal. One-minute and four seconds later, van Riemsdyk notched his second of the evening to tie it at 4-4. The former UNH star easily tapped a Voracek pass past Rask at the side of the Bruins net. Voracek and Hayes assisted with some quality passing on the man advantage for Philly. Voracek fired off a cross-ice feed to Hayes at the top of the circle; Hayes drifted in and dished back to the talented Czech winger, who fired off a shot pass to van Riemsdyk to tap in.
The Bruins pressured the Flyers in the waning minute of regulation, but this was destined for overtime.
Philly had three tremendous opportunities to end the game in the three-on-three, but each time, Rask was a wall and fended off the challenge. The first two came when Sanheim raced past Jakub Zboril and had a stuff bid stopped by Rask. Sanheim dished his rebound to Voracek all alone in front of Rask but swatted away Voracek’s backhanded attempt. Two minutes later, Voracek fed Hayes on a two-on-one break, but Rask made the leg save on Hayes’ bid.
In the shoot-out, Hart turned back Smith’s chance for Boston. Rask returned the favor denying Voracek. Coyle missed the net for the Bruins, and Travis Konecny did the same for Philly. That’s when DeBrusk struck to garner the extra point for the home team in the East Division standings. The 24-year-old DeBrusk deked Hart and roofed the puck into the top twine. It then came down to Giroux against Rask, but the Finnish netminder easily turned away Giroux to seal Boston’s victory.
Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy said he told his players between the second and third periods that they “are essentially too easy to play against offensively.”
“We’re a hard team to play against defensively,” added Cassidy. “I think we’re willing to play the right way, but offensively we’re too easy to play against. We discussed a couple of ways we could get better, harder to play against and maybe a little more forceful manner so ultimately the message gets across.”
Cassidy said Studnicka’s 1st career goal was a good example of the style of play he wants to see.
“It’s obviously a very exciting night for myself,” said Studnicka. “It’s great to get the win, so that that adds onto that.”
The win was Boston’s 51st home-opening win (51-24-20-1). Boston is now 10-0-3 vs. Philadelphia in their last 14 games at TD Garden. The Flyers have been outshot in all five of their games this season. The two teams meet again on Garden ice on Saturday at 7:00 pm.