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5 Takeaways: Flyers Jolt Bruins, Take HUGE Step Toward Playoffs

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Travis Konecny gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead by scoring a power-play goal late in the second period Saturday against visiting Boston. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers were coming off Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Carolina, a game that had a slew of positives, including a pristine third period. Considering the stakes and the opponent, it was one of the Flyers’ best periods of the season, and it salvaged a point against a powerhouse team.

The momentum carried into Saturday’s matinee against the talented Boston Bruins at the reverberating Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers played another strong game against an NHL heavyweight and, in dramatic fashion, outlasted the Bruins, 3-2.

After allowing six goals in each of their two earlier games against Boston, the upstart Flyers (36-26-9) were ultra-sharp defensively. They gave the dangerous Bruins few scoring chances and didn’t take foolish penalties. The B’s (41-16-15) finished with just 20 shots– nine fewer than Philly.

Believe, Philadelphia.

Travis Konecny scored a pair of goals for the Flyers. The right winger’s 30th goal of the season, scored from the left circle, gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead as the crowd erupted with 4:44 left in regulation.

But about a minute later, Danton Heinen got behind Scott Laughton and scored from the left circle, knotting the score at 2-2 with 3:48 to go.

No matter. Rookie Tyson Foerster (18th goal) made it 3-2 by firing a tracer upstairs that beat Linus Ullmark from the left circle with 1:29 left. Ullmark had stopped Owen Tippett on a breakaway 47 seconds earlier.

“I think we played very well against Carolina, and this was a carryover for sure,” said Foerster, who called the game-winning goal the biggest of his young career.

It gave the Flyers a thrilling win and greatly improved their Eastern Conference playoff chances.

Believe, Philadelphia.

“We kept the game where we wanted it and didn’t give them much at all,” goalie Sam Ersson said after the Flyers avenged last Saturday’s 6-5 loss in Boston.

“My take out of the game is that it’s two games in a row now that our third period has been our strongest period,” said coach John Tortorella, whose Flyers had lost seven straight to Boston since early in the 2021-22 season.

With 11 games left in the regular season, the Flyers hold third place in the Metropolitan Division and are four points ahead of Washington, which has two games in hand.

 

Here are some quick observations:

1. The power play — honest! — scored a key goal for the Flyers.

The Flyers’ league-worst power play snapped a scoreless tie as Konecny scored from the left side of the net with 1:45  left in a tense second period.

Foerster flubbed a shot from the high slot, but it dribbled to Konecny, who gathered the loose puck and beat Ullmark. The Flyers had been in a 2-for-27 power-play funk.

2. The tight-checking game had a playoff feel

The game had a playoff feel because there were not many wide-open, Grade-A chances. The checking was tight. Space was at a premium.

With a lot of the game played in the neutral zone, it was a grind-it-out affair, and you got the feeling special teams would play a huge part in determining the outcome. Midway through the game, it was scoreless, and the teams had combined for 18 shots — 10 by the B’s, eight by the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I looked up in the second period and the shots were 11-11 and I was surprised,” Foerster said. “But that was the game we wanted to play against them. They’re high-skilled and I thought we did a great job.”

Ersson, an unflappable rookie, kept it scoreless as he stopped former teammate James van Riemsdyk from the doorstep (twice) with 10:43 to go in the second. It was a rare scoring flurry in a game that had few quality chances until late in the third period.

But Konecny’s power-play goal broke the scoreless tie. The Flyers nearly made it 2-0, but Ullmark stopped Scott Laughton a breakaway with 25 seconds remaining in the second period.

In the first 40 minutes, the Flyers had a 13-12 shots edge.

3. Sean Couturier looked solid as he returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the previous two games.

The Flyers’ captain, who had never been scratched from a game in his career, probably save a goal in the first period as he broke up a pass that would have led to a Boston mini-breakaway.

“Just happy to be back and to contribute any way I can,” Couturier said. “It was a big two points.”

Couturier centered a fourth line, one that had Noah Cates and Olle Lycksell as his wingers. The line took the opening faceoff, and Couturier — who played 13:09 — received a loud ovation as he was announced to the crowd. Cates drew a high-sticking penalty against Andrew Peeke that set up Konecny’s goal.

All told, Couturier’s line played good defense, was active on the forecheck, and generated some offense.

“Their line actually carried a lot of momentum for us,” Konecny said. “When we dipped, I thought they came out and did a great job of getting it back. They were awesome.”

4. Rookie defensemen Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning again played well.

Attard had six shot attempts, two blocks and two hits in 16:30, along with an “even” rating. Ginning, his defensive partner, had three shots, four hits and a plus-1 rating in 16:37.

“I know what they can do; they were great when we played (with the Phantoms) last year,” Ersson said. “I’m very happy for them.”

5. The ‘Scary Seven’ continues Sunday with another tough opponent.

The Flyers will host Florida (45-20-4) on Sunday at 6 p.m. The Panthers, who play the Rangers on Saturday night, are among the teams battling for the NHL’s top overall record.

In their current seven-game span against the Eastern Conference’s toughest teams, the Flyers are a commendable 2-2-1.

“I think everyone realized they were huge points for us,” said Ersson after stopping 18 of 20 shots. “Every game for us is huge. We feel that and it’s fun to play.”

Philly is 2-0 vs. the Panthers this season, winning a pair of 2-1 decisions in Florida.

Breakaways

After a six-game scoring drought that followed an injury, Konecny has goals in back-to-back games. … Konecny on Foerster, who is tied for second among NHL rookies with 18 goals: “He’s going to be a really good player for a long time because of how he plays away from the puck. He does a lot of good things.” …  Laughton won 9 of 11 faceoffs (82%), had a team-high four shots and contributed four hits. Garnet Hathaway led the Flyers with seven hits. … With about 16 minutes left in the first, Foerster ripped a shot off the left post. …. Midway through the first period, David Pasternak fired wide of a one-timer from the left circle with Ersson out of position. … Travis Sanheim blocked four shots. … Ersson (21-14-6) leads NHL rookies in wins. … Flyers’ scratched players: Cam Atkinson, Nic Deslauriers, Denis Gurianov, and Marc Staal.

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