Bruins 4, Flyers 3
Having a two-goal third period lead against Boston is fun. Apparently, blowing it in painful fashion must be more fun, because why else would the Flyers do it for the second time this season Wednesday night? (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

For the love of Gritty, THEY DO IT EVERY ACTUALLY FREAKING YEAR TIME. For the seventh time in the last seven seasons (and second time this one), the Boston Bruins score a lead-changing goal in the final five minutes of regulation against the Flyers. And for the sixth time in those games, the Philadelphia Flyers lose; 4-3, in OT, relinquishing first place in the East Division.

The Flyers made a little bit of history tonight, busting out their Reverse Retro jerseys for the first time. I wasn’t totally sold when they first came out, and I’m not in love with them, but they look good on TV (the burnt orange is solid). That and playing in front of a national audience for the first time since opening night made this game a special night. And you know what that means!

The Flyers get dunked on literally twelve seconds in. David Pastrnak is only playing in his 3rd game of the season, but he’s already in mid-season form. Pasta turned Ghost inside-out with an incredible through-the-legs move, then banked a centering pass in off Ivan Provorov’s stick. Good to see the Flyers haven’t skipped a beat from their last encounter with Boston.

The rest of the period was mostly the standard 2019-20 Flyers, and not the new and slightly improved version from the last four tilts. Announcer Eddie Olcyzk counted at least five d-zone turnovers in the first eight minutes, and that trend didn’t exactly let up the rest of the way. Sloppy passes and poor decision making from just about every defenseman led to several dangerous chances.

To be fair, the Flyers found their legs a little bit towards the end of the frame. NAK threw the body and JVR was a beast on the forecheck (when Tuukka Rask wasn’t slowing it down). Philadelphia ended the first tied with the Bs in shots on goal (8-8) and actually out-chancing them (58.65% xGF at 5-on-5).

The Flyers played a bit steadier of a second period, but the breakdowns still remain. Ghost gifted Nick Ritchie a breakaway that the post kept out. Pastrnak walked another defender (Sanheim) en route to the net. Sean Kuraly wound up with a short-handed breakaway off an inexcusable NZ turnover caused by a terrible breakout. Thankfully, Carter Hart had all the answers, keeping the Flyers in this game despite some ugly warts.

Philly finally got some puck luck as the period progressed, and their opportunistic nature prevailed once again. A reach from Kevin Hayes snapped Charlie McAvoy’s stick, sending the Bruins into scramble mode. McAvoy took Coyle’s stick, keeping the number of Charlies on the ice with a stick the same. In the end, it didn’t matter, as Travis Sanheim found the stick-less seam, setting up Boston native Kevin Hayes for a wide-open one-timer to tie the score.

James van Riemsdyk ruined what had been a perfect night for him with an o-zone slashing penalty. Philly’s PK took care of the first 1:35 to end the second, then the last twenty-five seconds to being the third. Rather than immediately change, JVR stayed on the ice after exiting the box, and helped atone for his mistake. van Riemsdyk was a beast on the forecheck all night, and some hard work in the corner set up Travis Sanheim for a fairly dangerous chance. Unfortunately, it was blocked… right to Jake Voracek, who fired the puck into the yawning cage! Once again, when given an opportunity, the Flyers capitalize, taking their first lead of the night in the process.

The JVR revenge tour continued later in the frame. JVR took advantage of McAvoy being on his backhand at the blue-line and forced the puck up ice. Scott Laughton swooped in to take it, then sauced the puck over a sliding Jakub Zboril for the hottest kid in show biz to extend the lead. Joel Farabee’s fourth in the last two games and sixth of the season gives the Flyers a 3-1 lead!

Unfortunately, the only thing as consistent as the JVR revenge tour is David Pastrnak’s quick strike ability. Ten ticks into a weird closing your hand on the puck penalty by NAK, a bad scramble turned into high-skill and a one-goal game. Marchand was stymied in tight, but the eyes in the back of Patrice Bergeron’s head found Pastrnak for a tap-in. Gut check time for the Flyers. Did they have another clutch win in them?

Nope. Instead, Philly’s guts wound up spewn over the center ice by the end of the game for all to mock. The Flyers actually did a decent job controlling play in the aftermath of the second Pasta goal, even drawing a penalty with a chance to put the game away. Instead, they followed up a decent but unsuccessful PP by putting themselves away. Literally and figuratively.

With just 2:01 left, Kevin Hayes got the gate for slashing. The Flyers PK did a pretty good job, even had a few looks at the empty net. But with 15 seconds left; heartbreak. David Pastrnak swats in a rebound out of the air for the hat-trick… and the tie.

To make matters worse, Scott Laughton somehow managed to take an interference minor before regulation even finished. The Flyers went from having two points in their grasp to nearly none. In the end, they wound up with one. Philadelphia got the game to OT, where Patrice Bergeron buried his own redirect’s rebound 31 seconds in. For the second time this season, a two-goal third period lead isn’t enough against the defending President’s Trophy winners.

And just like that, a stellar performance by Carter Hart and one of the team’s most consistent games of the year goes down the drain. What makes this loss so frustrating isn’t the late collapse, although that would’ve been enough on its own. The Flyers have been so enigmatic, and it’s been tough to figure out exactly why they’ve been so poor most games. Yes, the defense isn’t great, but it’s not as bad on paper as it’s been on the ice. They’re without Sean Couturier, but they still have a lot of talent.

This is one of the few games where the path to victory was pretty clear. Don’t take a bevy of penalties in the game’s most crucial moments. Kill a penalty, win a hockey game. The Flyers PK, which looked to be turning a corner, flat-lined tonight, going one-for-four. There have been plenty of games, the first collapse to Boston included, where the Flyers felt fortunate to have a late lead. This game wasn’t one of them. And of course it’s the one that gets away.

Lindies

Here’s the latest on the Flyers injury situation, from GM Chuck Fletcher’s Tuesday press conference. Good news for Sean Couturier (expected back in 7-10 days) and relatively for prospect Wade Allison (out 4-5 weeks, ankle surgery). Scary news for prospect Isaac Ratcliffe, who suffered a rib injury that led to a collapsed lung. The good news is he’ll be ready to practice in about 4 weeks. Terrible news for Morgan Frost, who will undergo shoulder surgery and likely miss the rest of the year. Poor kid can’t catch a break.

After making his season debut and NHL debut at forward Saturday, Sam Morin was sent down to the Phantoms. Learning a new position is very tough, and with the Phantoms season starting in two weeks, getting consistent playing time there will be valuable to Morin’s development.

Tonight was Shayne Gostisbehere’s worst game of the season. It wasn’t just the pylon impersonation on the opening goal; Ghost made several sloppy turnovers throughout, and he and Provorov was taken to the cleaners (low-30s Corsi, out-chanced at 5-on-5). Of course, this game stood out so much because of how good he’s played so far this year. Everyone has bad games from time-to-time, but tonight was not Ghost’s night.

Boston’s second line (Nick Ritchie, David Krejci, and Craig Smith) was a main culprit for that above quip. They were all over the ice, especially in the early going, and outshot the Flyers (in attempts) 13-8 at 5-on-5. Remember when the Bruins were just a one line team? Those were the days.

Pastrnak’s goal is the quickest allowed by the Flyers into a game since Brayden Point scored at 25 seconds on January 25, 2018.

Despite the result, some congratulations are in order for the Flyers. First, another milestone for Claude Giroux, who played his 900th NHL game tonight.

The next goes to James van Riemsdyk, the first ever East Division star of the month, who put up 13 points in January (t-1st in division w/ Nicklas Backstrom). The NHL has been partnering a healthcare worker with its first star of the week/stars of the month, and joining James for the honor is the Hatheway family, one of the first responder families the Flyers have invited to attend this season.

Speaking of fans attending games at the WFC this season, we actually have good news. The Wells Fargo Center became the first building in Philadelphia to receive the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. It doesn’t guarantee fans will be allowed to end soon, or at all this season; local and state restrictions still remain. But it is an important first step. And for what it’s worth, the building, which has become a sentient being is being run by people that seem optimistic.

3 Stars

3rd: James van Riemsdyk – Assist (9)

2nd: David Pastrnak – 3 Goals (3, 4, 5), Assist (2)

1st: Patrice Bergeron – Goal (6), 3 Assists (7, 8, 9)

Next

2/5, 7 PM: BOS VS. PHI (Round 4 of 8)

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Advanced Stats via Natural Stat Trick