Where: TD Garden, Boston, Mass
BOSTON — The adage is as old as the game itself.”Throw the puck at the net and anything can happen.”
“Ninety-nine out of 100 it’s not going to go in,” Drew Stafford said after his seemingly harmless shot from the right boards deflected off Philadelphia defenseman Brandon Manning and past Steve Mason with 5.6 seconds left, giving the Boston Bruins a dramatic 2-1 victory over the fading Flyers on Saturday.
“Those kind of breaks, we’ll take those.”
Stafford, the newest Bruin, took a pass from Kevan Miller, carried the puck down the right side, stopped, spun and threw the puck toward the net. The puck hit Manning and became Stafford’s second goal in four games with his new team.
“It’s a bounce of the puck. That’s the way it goes,” said Manning, whose team played a strong game, faded some in the third and should have grabbed at least one point as their games are dwindling and they are on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
“We’ve still got 16, 16 games left,” Manning said. “There’s a long way to go.”
The win the Boston’s 10th in 13 games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, who is 7-1 at home since replacing the fired Claude Julien.
“You never know, throwing it at the net,” Cassidy said. “It’s lucky. We all know that. A heartbreaker for Philly and a benefit for us.”
David Pastrnak, extending his points streak to eight straight games, also scored (and had seven shots on goal) for the Bruins, who picked up a big win in their bid to remain in third place in the Atlantic Division.
Jordan Weal had the goal for the Flyers, who got 25 saves from Mason. Mason was the game’s third star, but the Flyers fell to 6-9-2 in their last 15 games.
Tuukka Rask, winning his 32nd game of the season, stopped 26 shots for the Bruins, who are 9-1-2 in their last 12 games against Philadelphia and 7-0-1 in their last eight home games against the Flyers.
“That was one of those overtime type goals,” Rask said of the winner. “He made a nice move. Drew realized he had some time there, made a spin-a-rama and threw it at the net.”
The Bruins challenged the Weal goal, his third in the last six games, claiming Wayne Simmonds had gone offside on the right wing. Despite some video evidence that indicated he had gone in before the puck, it was apparently not conclusive enough to wave off the goal.
The Bruins killed a 1:43 5-on-3 in the first period, the Flyers getting five shots on Rask, while defenseman Adam McQuaid helped out by blocking a pair of Claude Giroux one-timers..
“A few nice blocks and we kept them on the perimeter the best we could,” said Rask, 12-2-3 against the Flyers. “It’s all about being smart and limiting any scoring chance they get, and I think we did that.”
Late in the period, with the Bruins on the power play, Brad Marchand, whose high-sticking penalty put his team down the two men, did the heavy lifting on the Pastrnak goal and didn’t get an assist. He separated defenseman Andrew MacDonald from the puck behind the net after Torey Krug cleared the puck in. Patrice Bergeron got it and relayed it to Pastrnak, the assists giving Bergeron 23 points in the last 18 games.
Brayden Schenn thought he had stuffed one past Rask on a rebound earlier in the period, but the call was no goal. Schenn said he was told the referee intended to blow the whistle before it went over the line.
Wayne Simmonds (eight) and Jakub Voracek (seven) combined for 15 of Philadelphia’s 27 shots, Simmonds earning an assist on the goal.
“It’s a tough loss,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We played a pretty darn good road game. It’s tough to go away without any points.
“I thought we had the better of the play in the second and the better of the opportunities. I think that was the case for them in the third.”
NOTES: A large contingent of Flyers fans brought plenty of orange and noise for the visitors. … LW Brad Marchand has 70 points, making him the first Bruin since Marc Savard (88 points) in 2008-09 to reach the 70-point plateau. Marchand also came in leading the NHL in goals (22) and points (39) since Jan. 1. He is also the first Bruin with back-to-back 30-goal seasons since Glen Murray did it in three straight seasons (2001-04). … The Flyers ended a four-game road trip with a 1-2-1 record and host the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins Monday and Wednesday. … The Bruins open a four-game trip in Vancouver on Monday night. … Boston improved to 8-2 in matinees.