BOSTON – Tim Thomas only needed to make one more save to snap the Boston Bruins’ four-game losing streak and keep the defending Stanley Cup champions from falling even further down the Eastern Conference standings.
After the first five skaters in the shootout all scored, Thomas turned aside Danny Briere as the Bruins recovered after blowing a two-goal lead to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Saturday. Tyler Seguin scored in regulation and in the shootout, and Patrice Bergeron had an assist and the game-deciding goal for Boston.
“Sometimes when you lose in a shootout, you take it personally. But if you win you feel real good,” said Thomas, who made 27 saves in regulation. “That was a hard, 65-minute effort today.”
Chris Kelly also scored for Boston, and Thomas made 27 saves in regulation and the five-minute overtime. Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is 6-0 in shootouts this season.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Flyers, who lost for just the second time in nine games. Matt Read and Jakub Voracek scored as Philadelphia rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime.
“We came back. That’s a good point,” forward Jaromir Jagr said. “Too bad we couldn’t get the other one.”
The Bruins passed Ottawa and took over first place in the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the Senators’ game against Toronto on Saturday night.
“I think we know that time is running out. With 10 games left, we know that it’s important to bring that kind of effort,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You want to make sure you’re playing your best hockey when the playoffs start. We want to build to that, and we’ve got a lot of building to do.”
David Krejci and Seguin scored to open the shootout for Boston, answered by Read and Claude Giroux. Bergeron beat Bryzgalov on the stick side, leaving Briere with a chance to tie it.
The Flyers centre skated in quickly on Thomas but found himself too close to the crease. Pulling up, he put a weak shot right into Thomas to end it.
The Bruins had allowed 21 goals over the last four games, losing all of them. They had given up the first goal in seven straight games.
But they took the lead 6:23 into the first period when Kelly knocked in a rebound of Benoit Pouliot’s shot. They made it 2-0 when Patrice Bergeron made a pass from behind the net to Seguin on the side of the crease and he put it in with 2:53 left in the first.
“We knew they were going to be desperate,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. “They haven’t been playing too well as of late. They haven’t been getting many wins. We knew they were going to come out with a big effort. They smoked us the first half of the game.”
Bryzgalov had won seven in a row, posting a 0.99 goals-against average.
Read’s goal gave him 20 on the season. He also has 21 assists, making him the first Flyers rookie to hit the 20-goal mark and 40-point mark in a season since Jeff Carter in 2005-06.
Notes: Thomas has played in 12 consecutive games because of the injury to backup abdominal strain sustained by backup Tuukka Rask. Marty Turco was signed as a backup, but he gave up three goals in the first 4:31 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday and Thomas come on in relief. … The Bruins wore green warmup jerseys with shamrocks to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. … Andrew Ference celebrated his 33rd birthday. … Flyers D Andreas Lilja left the game in the second period and did not return. No further information was given. … C Maxime Talbot also missed the third period with an undisclosed injury. … Bruins D Joe Corvo missed his first game of the season. Coach Claude Julien said he was “banged up.” … Philadelphia’s first shot on goal came with 10:26 left in the first period.