Flyers drop consecutive games for the first time this season with loss to Boston Bruins
Flyers allow 44 shots in loss to the Bruins.
Give Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort — or any NHL player, for that matter — a couple of seconds unencumbered at the top of the slot to pick his spot and the puck will find its way into the back of the net.
That’s exactly what the Flyers did when Forbort scored the eventual go-ahead goal in the Bruins’ 5-2 victory on Saturday night. Forbort had an eternity in hockey time to fire a wrist shot at the net, which struck the crossbar and landed behind goalie Martin Jones. While defenseman Nick Seeler crouched down in an attempt to block Forbort’s shot, the puck went sailing past the right side of Seeler’s turned head.
“I think there was a breakdown on the left side there,” Seeler said. “It was kind of a two-on-two. Had to respect the guys coming hard on us, and they hit that late D. Tried to block it — I got to block that. And it was a good shot.”
The Flyers had an opportunity to dig themselves out of a two-goal deficit with the Bruins up, 4-2, in the middle of the third period when Brandon Carlo was called for a tripping minor. However, the man-advantage was quickly nullified when the team was assessed a bench minor for a Claude Giroux face-off violation much to the Flyers’ ire.
“That could have been a huge power play goal for us to come back in the game and be tied at the end,” Derick Brassard said. “So that’s why we’re kind of upset a little bit. But, it is what it is.”
With their shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and their defeat at the hands of the Bruins, the Flyers have dropped back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Shooters shoot, a lot
The Bruins established dominance early by peppering a whopping 21 shots on Jones in the first period, while the Flyers managed only eight on Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark. Seven of those shots came on two straight Bruins power play opportunities after Giroux was called for tripping Carlo and Justin Braun tripped David Pastrňák with 12 seconds left in the Giroux minor. Despite the Bruins’ best effort, the Flyers held off the seventh-ranked power play team in the NHL.
However, the Bruins’ persistence in getting pucks to the net paid off late in the first period when winger Tomas Nosek scored on his backhand by lifting the puck over the left shoulder of Jones. Up until that point, the Flyers had done a decent job of maintaining the structure of the defensive zone and keeping shots to the outside.
The Flyers found more success limiting the Bruins’ chances in the second period, holding Boston to 13 shots on goal, but the Bruins made the most of their opportunities and scored twice. But by the end of the game, the Bruins outshot the Flyers, 44-31.
Jones tested often
Coming off a loss to the Dallas Stars in which he allowed four goals, Flyers backup goaltender Martin Jones (.931 save percentage and a 2.27 goals-against average in four games) was given the starting nod in net against the Bruins. Boston kept Jones on his toes all night, registering 44 shots on goal, highlighted by the especially active first period.
Two of the early goals that Jones let through were products of his defensemen’s shortcomings. On the Bruins’ first goal from Nosek, Seeler lost the battle on the boards behind the net and Keith Yandle fell down, allowing winger Anton Blidh to make an easy pass and leaving Jones vulnerable to Nosek in the crease. On Forbort’s goal, his shot from the blue line deflected off the blade of Braun and past Jones.
However, Vigneault was critical of Jones’ positioning on Craig Smith’s third-period goal that put the Bruins up, 4-2.
“I think if Jonesy’s out a couple more feet, it’s a routine save,” Vigneault said. “He got caught there a little bit.”
One of Jones’ most thrilling saves came against Smith in the first period when the goalie denied a wraparound by sealing the post off with his skate and his stick.
Brassard an offensive boost
With center Kevin Hayes out due to injury, the Flyers called upon veteran offseason addition Brassard to fill in once again as second-line center. Through the first 12 games of the season on the second line, Brassard recorded two goals and five assists for seven points. However, over the last two games on a line with left winger Claude Giroux and right winger Cam Atkinson, Brassard has seen an explosion in production (two goals, two assists).
“I’m just so excited to play with [Giroux],” Brassard said. “Grew up playing against him in junior and I know how good of a player and competitor he is. I kind of feed off of his energy. He gets fired up and I love it. He’s a big-time player.”
Brassard’s most impactful night on the score sheet came Saturday night with two goals scored on Ullmark. One of those goals came on the power play, which has been a point of weakness for the Flyers since the conclusion of their season-opening, four-game homestand when they went 5-for-11. The play started with a critical keep at the blueline by defenseman Ivan Provorov, then ended with a Giroux cross-ice pass and a Brassard wrist shot into a wide-open net. With Brassard’s power play goal, the Flyers now have a 15.38% conversion rate this season (eight goals on 52 opportunities).
The Flyers travel south to kick off a two-game, back-to-back road trip when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia). It’ll be their second meeting in less than a week against the Lightning, who won 4-3 in a shootout over the Flyers on Thursday. The following night, the Flyers will pay a visit to the Florida Panthers (7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia).