Playing in their sixth back-to-back and 17th game all-together in the month of March, it would be easy to give the Bruins a pass if they didn't have their A-game versus the Flyers on Sunday.
That was certainly the case, but for this team, even their B-game is formidable.
The Bruins beat the Flyers 4-3 in a shootout and extended their new winning streak to three gams, and set a new franchise record with their ninth straight road win. Andrej Meszaros, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron all scored in regulation, with Reilly Smith's winner coming in the 5th round of the shootout, which gave Boston their 52nd win of the year and 110 points overall.
|Smith wins the game for Boston (via M. Slocum/Getty)|
Tuukka Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold withstood a White and Orange barrage throughout the day, with the end number of shots faced settling at 52, the first time this season an opponent has gotten at least 50 shots on Boston. Rask made a season-high 49 saves, as well as four out of five attempts in the shootout.
Vincent Lecavalier opened the scoring on the day with his 17th of the year and 400th in his in NHL career just five minutes into the game when he released a quick shot that beat a screened Tuukka Rask.
But the Bruins tied the game at 10:43 through Andrej Meszaros when he scored his 7th of the year and 2nd as a Bruin against the team that traded him back on March 5. Dougie Hamilton did some great work in the zone to keep the play alive before feeding the puck to Brad Marchand. His pass found Meszaros in the high slot to get the Bruins back even.
Zac Rinaldo landed a huge hit on Jarome Iginla, launching him into the boards and taking out David Krejci and the linesman in the process. Iginla took exception to the play and took on Rinaldo, yet Rinaldo got Iginla three times right on the button and got the takedown. The refs broke it up with Iginla still wanting a piece of his assailant but his pursuit ended with no avail.
The Flyers took the lead back with just 40 seconds to go in the period through Kimmo Timonen's 5th of the year. The Bruins got lost a bit in their own zone when Jakub Voracek drew a crowd, leaving Timonen wide open to receive the pass and blow it by Tuukka Rask.
The second period belonged to Boston on the score-sheet, as Boston tied the game through Zdeno Chara and eventually took the lead through Patrice Bergeron.
Chara tied the game five minutes into the period when he scored his 17th of the year on the powerplay. The goal was Chara's 10th on the powerplay this season, putting him one away from his career high set in the 2008-09 season when he had 11 on the man-advantage.
|Bergy puts the B's ahead (via L. Redkoles/Getty)|
The Flyers continued their pressure on from that point on and into the third period. The Flyers were all over the Bruins in the final frame, outshooting the B's 17-6 in total. Two penalties back-to-back by Doug Hamilton and Zdeno Chara gave the Flyers a 5-on-3 for nearly two minutes, but the defensive paring of Johnny Boychuck and Kevan Miller held strong as they played the entire penalty kill on the backline.
But the B's and Rask were holding on and getting the job done, before one sequence undid all of their hard-work.
Boston was 30 seconds away from closing out the game in regulation when the Flyers found the tying goal to send the game to OT. Unable to clear a bouncing puck from their own zone, coupled with intense pressure from the Flyers, Philly tied the game at 3 through Lecavalier's second of the day. Jakub Voracek surged through the defense and ripped a shot from a sharp angle that ricocheted off of Rask and straight to Lecavalier who buried it in the open net with Rask out of position.
|Mason stones Carl (via D. Hallowell/Getty)|
In overtime, both teams traded chances, with both Rask and Mason saving some huge shots to keep the game rolling. Rask stoned Luke Schenn on a breakaway with just a minute to go in the OT period to keep the Flyers off the board, and the game eventually went to a shootout.
In the skills competition, it was Reilly Smith who netted the game winner in the 7th round of the shooutout when he beat Mason with a slick move and shot the puck along the ice under Mason's glove.
The goal gave Boston the extra point in the contest and 110 total on the year, putting them 11 ahead of Pittsburgh in the East and three ahead of St. Louis for the lead in the NHL.
After having their 12-game winning streak snapped by Montreal on Monday night, the Bruins have responded by starting anew in the way of winning three straight over the defending Cup champion Blackhawks and sweeping the first half of their road trip in Washington and Philadelphia.
The two wins versus the Caps and Flyers are arguably more impressive than the shutout over the 'Hawks on Thursday night, as both Washington and Philly are fighting for their playoff lives in the last weeks of the season. Boston exerted their strength in games that didn't mean as much to the Black and Gold as they did to their competition.
Boston has two more games left on their road trip, as they'll take on the Red Wings on Wednesday night and the Maple Leafs on Thursday night. As if this team needed yet another back-to-back.
But for now, they have a few days off to rest up after playing through a hellacious 17-game-in 31 days.
The Bruins finish March with a 15-1-1 record, having lost their only game in regulation back on the first day of the month versus Washington.
Good times indeed.