(Photo credit: Amy Irvin, 38 Photography)
The Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Boston Bruins 3-2 after Brett Connolly deflection with less than two minutes left in regulation gave the Flyers their third straight loss as they continue their late January swoon.
After falling to the Maple Leafs with less than ten seconds left earlier last week, the Bruins similarly stole a point away from the Flyers despite being outplayed in much of the last two periods,.
The first period opened with some early Flyers pressure, but penalties and the awful penalty kill would doom them soon enough. Patrice Bergeron scored his 19th of the season after snapping back the rebound from the slot after his initial attempt was blocked by Radko Gudas.
Disaster nearly struck the Flyers again after Matt Read haplessly skated away from his own puck unevaded, leaving Bergeron to get an easy scoring chance that luckily was gloved by Michal Neuvirth. Michael Del Zotto took a slashing penalty late in the period and the penalty kill would fail again as Brad Marchand scored on the one timer after some tic-tac-toe passing, his fifth in as many games, to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
Despite the lackluster special teams, the Flyers held their own with the Bruins at even-strength during the period but would need a jumpstart to get back into the game. They would get that opportunity early in often with four power plays in the second period, three alone in the first five minutes. They would convert on one of those chances as Wayne Simmonds drove home a pretty shuffle pass from Brayden Schenn off a loose rebound in front to cut the lead in half.
The Flyers dominated play during the second period and despite the abundance of chances and special teams opportunities, the goaltending of Tuukka Rask kept the orange and black in check with the lone goal surrendered in 15 shots faced.
The final period saw the Flyers once again turn up the offensive zone pressure early and often, but still could not beat Rask. The Bruins seemingly made it 3-1 on Torey Krug rocket but ricocheted right off the crossbar. On the ensuing rush, Voracek was able to keep the puck in on an attempted clear and fired it on Rask from the point, where Simmonds crashed the net and pounded home the rebound to the tie the game. Claude Julien would go on to challenge the goal as it appeared Del Zotto was offsides, but the call on the ice stood as the game was tied.
The game seemingly headed overtime, a late attack by the Bruins kept the puck deep in the Flyers zone. A Zdeno Chara blast from the point would be deflected by Connolly and the air was sucked out of the Wells Fargo Center.
Despite some woes on special teams, the Flyers really dominated even-strength play when they weren’t turning the puck over, out chancing the Bruins 56-33 over the course of the game. The first line dominated possession as the norm and the due of Bellmare and VandeVelde were in the red on the flip side of it.
Fourth Line Disaster
The third-fourth-checking whatever you want to call them line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Ryan White has been downright awful the last several games. White has looked nothing like what he was a year ago and the line as a whole has just looked out of sorts. It boils to the penalty kill as well since VandeVelde and Bellemare are regulars on that unit. The bottom six as a whole has really been a weak spot all season and is a major issue to be addressed going forward.
We Miss You Coots
Sean Couturier has really opened the eyes of detractors with his play this season, even earning some chatter as a potential dark horse Selke Trophy nominee. But his real value has been apparent the last two games. The Flyers really looked out of sorts the final two periods against Pittsburgh and the first period against the Bruins tonight and it can be argued his two way play was sorely missed. The penalty kill, which already was downtrodden, has especially been porous. The Flyers began to sneak into playoff contention recently and unless Couturier returns soon, they may as quietly fall right back out.