PHILADELPHIA – With Marc Savard most likely out for rest of the season because of a concussion, Patrice Bergeron led the way for the banged-up Boston Bruins.
The new first-line centre scored a goal and had two assists in Boston’s 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Tuukka Rask made 31 saves, and Mark Recchi and David Krejci scored second-period goals along with Bergeron, helping the Bruins inch higher in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins, last in scoring in the NHL, scored four or more goals for only the third time in the calendar year. Bergeron has five points in four games.
“He led the way for us,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said about Bergeron. “It’s really hard to replace Marc. He’s a unique player, an unbelievable playmaker. Patrice is realizing he has to carry the offence, and he’s doing a really good job. He’s really playing on top of his game.”
Boston is 7-2-2 in its past 11 games and has 72 points, within two of Philadelphia and Montreal for the sixth seed. More importantly, the Bruins created some distance between the idle New York Rangers (67 points) with 16 games remaining.
“We need to play like that every night,” defenceman Mark Stuart said. “Guys were winning battles and it showed on the scoreboard. There aren’t enough games left in the season for us to take any nights off. We have to do exactly what we did tonight. We have to play physical games.”
Blake Wheeler scored the game’s first goal, when he took a centre ice pass from Krejci, and flipped a backhand shot over Michael Leighton’s right shoulder.
Flyers centre Jeff Carter tied it a few seconds into a second-period power play. He deposited a faceoff behind the net, then intercepted Mark Stuart’s clearing pass and sent a slap shot past Rask.
Boston regained the lead less than four minutes later on Recchi’s 20-foot wrist shot from just inside the faceoff circle, assisted by Bergeron, beat Leighton.
Bergeron made it 3-1 at 10:30, when he recovered a rebound off a shot by Matt Hunwick and scored from inside the blue line. Forty-six seconds later, Krejci took a backhanded feed from Michael Ryder and beat Leighton with a wrist shot, chasing the goalie from the game. He entered the game with a 15-3-2 with a 2.28 goals-against average for the Flyers.
“We left Michael out to dry,” said coach Peter Laviolette, singling out the team’s defence. “You go back and look at the goals, our defence was porous. It didn’t do what it needed to do in front of our goaltender for us to be successful. We didn’t help our goaltender at all. Flying by guys, flying by the puck…we need to be better than that. It wasn’t sharp. It’s not where it needs to be in order to win hockey games.”
Marco Sturm scored Boston’s fifth goal, beating Brian Boucher in the third period.
The Flyers must recover for a Saturday matinee against Chicago.
“We all need to be better, from me all the way down,” defenceman Chris Pronger said. “It was a very big game. They were four points behind us and this was a chance for us to distance ourselves from them. For whatever reason, (we) didn’t come up with a good effort at all. I think the last couple of games, we teased ourselves with getting two wins (against) teams that are below us and not playing very well. Fortunately, we were able to win those games, but we didn’t make it easy. Tonight it came back to haunt us.”
NOTES: Carter has nine points in his past eight games. … Philadelphia’s Danny Briere played in his 650th NHL game. … The Bruins are one of two NHL franchises with a winning record against the Flyers, at the 81-61-21-6. Montreal is the other. … The loss snapped a five-game home winning streak for the Flyers.