Rested Bruins host slumping Flyers
- Gionta retires after 16 seasons
- Caps sign D Alexeyev for 3 yrs., $2.775M
- Seattle's KeyArena renovation plan OK'd
- Canadiens give F Byron 4-year extension
- Red Wings score 3 in 2nd to down Pens
BOSTON -- It was a tough night all around for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Playing with a nor'easter carrying on outside the Wells Fargo center, the Flyers missed a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division Wednesday night with a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins -- their third loss in as many tries against their rivals this season.
The Flyers' fourth straight loss after 10 wins in 11 games was only the start of the problems, as the team faced weather uncertainty for a trip into stormy Boston for Thursday night's game.
Oh, and we should probably tell you the Bruins, snug in their beds at home while the Flyers played, have won four straight on their current six-game homestand.
The Flyers, anything but a sure bet to make the playoffs let alone finish first in their division, got Wayne Simmonds back Wednesday after a seven-game injury absence, but still fell and have allowed 20 goals in the four losses.
The Flyers went 0-for-5 on the power play and have one goal on their last 19 chances.
"Our power play was (expletive) tonight," Philadelphia center Claude Giroux said after Wednesday's game.
Philadelphia faces a Bruins team that lost Patrice Bergeron before the start of this streak but have cruised along, anyway. They lost rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy to a knee injury that should cost him a month, and will also be without veteran David Backes, who received a three-game suspension from the NHL on Wednesday for a Tuesday night hit on Detroit's Frans Nielsen.
But with Bergeron out, his linemate, Brad Marchand, playing with Riley Nash as his substitute center, has been magical. He has scored overtime goals in the last two games, giving him the club regular season record with 11 and capped a three-goal/two-assist effort when he scored the winner in Tuesday's sloppy 6-5 win over the Red Wings.
For the season, Marchand has 28 goals, 66 points and is a plus-31 in 51 games.
Asked Tuesday about his little pest's ability to score when it matters, his coach, Bruce Cassidy, said:
"I appreciate all of it. I've known Brad a long time. I've got a lot of respect for the way he plays the game, the way he conducts himself as a person, as a pro, and we need it.
"I was chuckling after the game because, you know, there he is, puck finds him, but he's on it, doesn't quit, made some real nice plays tonight."
Bergeron was on his way right into the MVP race when he got hurt and you could easily make the argument Marchand is now part of that discussion.
Tuukka Rask, who has missed the last two games with what is being called a minor injury, shut the Flyers out 3-0 in Philadelphia back on Dec. 2. Anton Khudobin has played very well in the two games and could be back in there Thursday night.
For the Flyers, Petr Mrazek has played the last six games after coming over from Detroit at the deadline because injuries had left Philadelphia without a veteran. Coach Dave Hakstol more than hinted rookie Alex Lyon would start one of the games of this back-to-back, and Mrazek played Wednesday.
"I thought Petr played a good game," coach Hakstol said after Mrazek surrendered four Wednesday night.
The Bruins have scored 20 goals during their winning streak but clearly missed McAvoy, who went down on the first shift on Saturday night's win over Montreal, on Tuesday.
Boston trails the Tampa Bay Lightning by six points for the Atlantic (and NHL) lead but has three games in hand and have three games remaining with Tampa Bay.
Updated March 8, 2018