Punch that postseason ticket. The Bruins officially claimed their spot in the playoffs after Brad Marchand’s goal late in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and lifted Boston to a 2-1 win over Philadelphia.
The goal was Marchand’s 20th of the year and for the rookie it broke a 12 game goalless streak. Sitting on the brink of a personal landmark like that can be tough and for Marchand it can help him and the Bruins get hot heading into the playoffs. Tim Thomas was his usual stellar self in this one stopping 27 shots to earn the victory. Nathan Horton also had a power play goal for the Bruins while Kris Versteeg had the Flyers’ lone tally.
Boston now gains a bit more ground on Montreal in the Northeast Division as they’ve got a seven point lead on the Habs and Montreal has just six games left to play. Boston has seven remaining this season and now the division title and a top three seed are well within reach. Also within reach is a shot at the second seed as the B’s are now four points back of Washington. Philly is just six points ahead of Boston in the East.
Brian Boucher was the true hard luck loser in this game as he stopped 34 shots for the Flyers. Philly has their own problems to deal with in the standings as the Penguins are closing in on them just four points behind. Washington is just two points back of the Flyers for the top spot in the East. The heat is coming from all sides for the Flyers and with Chris Pronger not yet ready to come back from a broken hand, they’ll have to buckle up and hold on as long as they can. While they’ve got no worries about missing the playoffs, locking down home ice throughout the playoffs should make for a great warm-up for the postseason party.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.