Tim Thomas steals show with 52 saves, Bruins take 2-0 lead with OT win

What started off as a rough night for Boston’s Tim Thomas turned into one of the best playoff goaltending performances of the season. Philadelphia jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals from James van Riemsdyk but Thomas settled in after that making 46 straight saves en route to a 52 save performance in a 3-2 Bruins overtime win.

The comeback began immediate in the first period as the Bruins settled down play right away and scored a pair of quick goals of their own to knot it up. Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand scored the goals and got the game locked down after one period. The rest of the way it would be Tim Thomas’ show as the Flyers came out inspired tonight. Be it from their embarrassing performance in Game 1 or from the roaring start before the game from Lauren Hart’s rendition of “God Bless America” the Flyers came to play tonight. In the end though, it would be Thomas’ skills that would keep them off the board the rest of the way into overtime.

In overtime, David Krejci ended things with a snipe shot that hit off the pipe in the back of the net. While officials originally said it was not a goal, replay confirmed rather quickly that Krejci had beaten Brian Boucher to give the Bruins a 3-2 win.

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For Boston it was a resilient performance. The jump the Flyers had out of the gate with van Riemsdyk scoring just 29 seconds into the game and then following it up with his second goal nine minutes later the Bruins could’ve been on the ropes.

Instead, patience and more scatterbrained defensive play and iffy goaltending allowed them to tie it up. Kelly’s goal came on a play in front of the net where no defender was locked up with him and the initial shot came to him and Kelly had time to work around Boucher and put it home.

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That kind of defensive work will not cut it and while the Flyers cut down on their coverage mistakes in a big way tonight compared to Game 1, the ones they did make cost them dearly. The Flyers aren’t quite in a desperate place yet, but with the series headed back to Boston and the Flyers in an 0-2 hole it’s not looking good for them.

Boston meanwhile is finding ways to get it done and tonight they owe all of that to Thomas. With the way van Riemsdyk was playing tonight it evoked the memories of John LeClair in a Flyers uniform. He played to his size and was a force throughout the game providing many scoring chances on top of his two goals. He and the rest of the Flyers will need to bring that effort forth again if they want to get back in this series.

While the Bruins power play is still goalless in the playoffs, talk of that is taking a backseat to how well they were able to resist everything that Philadelphia threw at them. Bruins fans sometimes hope that Thomas can be the guy to help steal them a game. They don’t have to look to hard now to find a defining game in his playoff career that he stole for them.

Here are the highlights from tonight’s game.

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After Stepan trade, Zibanejad negotiations become even more crucial

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For a good while, the center position in New York was largely carried by the one-two punch of Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan.

Now, the Derick & Derek show is no longer.

Stepan was shipped out during draft weekend in a blockbuster deal with Arizona. Brassard exited a year earlier in a move to Ottawa that brought Mika Zibanejad to the Blueshirts.

Zibanejad, 24, was acquired by GM Jeff Gorton in the hopes of one day becoming New York’s No. 1 center. He certainly showed he was capable this season — despite missing nearly 30 games with a broken fibula, he put together a fine offensive regular season and then surged in the playoffs, finishing with nine points in 12 games.

And now, a big negotiation sits on the horizon.

Zibanejad is a restricted free agent coming off a two-year, $5.25 million deal with a $2.625M cap hit. As we wrote earlier, Gorton is “open to anything” with regards to the extension, saying he’d be willing to go either short- or long-term.

One has to think Zibanejad has a ton of leverage. His acquisition price (Brassard) was significant, Stepan is now gone, and so too is depth center Oscar Lindberg, who was acquired by Vegas at the expansion draft. Right now, New York’s center depth consists of Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and maybe some spot duty from J.T. Miller.

Lias Andersson, taken seventh overall at Friday’s draft, said he wants to make the Rangers this year. But there’s no guarantee he’ll even play in North America this season, as Gorton could opt to send Andersson back to the Swedish League for further development.

The free agent market isn’t especially inspiring down the middle, unless someone thinks they can land Joe Thornton, and there’s no doubt Zibanejad’s seen the paydays scored by some other good, young, top-line centers. Winnipeg gave Mark Scheifele $49 million over eight years, while Calgary gave Sean Monahan $44M over seven.

Is Zibanejad at their level? If you surveyed folks around the league, the answer would be probably no. But he could be soon and, what’s more, the Rangers may be forced to pay him as if he already is.

Sabres bring back defenseman Fedun on two-year deal

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Taylor Fedun, the Sabres depth defenseman that was set to become a UFA on Saturday, has agreed to a two-year, two-way extension, Buffalo announced on Monday.

Fedun, 29, appeared in 27 games for the Sabres last year, splitting time between the NHL and the club’s AHL affiliate in Rochester. He was a very productive player for the Amerks, scoring 23 points in 29 games.

Moving forward, most expect Fedun to continue in the same role he served this year — a guy that can provide veteran stability at the minor league level, and fill spot duty at the NHL level when injuries strike.

Ottawa extends Pyatt — two years, $2.2 million

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Tom Pyatt, the veteran forward who enjoyed some success reuniting with Guy Boucher in Ottawa last season, has re-signed with the Sens on a two-year, $2.2 million deal, per TSN.

Pyatt was a steady contributor for the Sens, scoring nine goals and 23 points while appearing in all 82 contests. He averaged over 15 minutes per night and was a vital part of the club’s penalty kill, leading all forwards in blocked shots.

He also appeared in 14 playoff games, scoring twice.

Prior to playing in Ottawa, Pyatt had skated under Boucher in Tampa Bay. They spent parts of two years together with the Lightning, before heading off to Switzerland — Pyatt with Geneve Servette, Boucher with Bern SC.

Pyatt was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday, but clearly liked the fit in Ottawa. He’ll get a pay bump — up from the $800,000 he made last year — a bit more long-term security, and possibly a bigger role with the Sens moving forward.

Ottawa has already stated it will cut ties with veteran tough guy Chris Neil, and decisions are still looming on UFA forwards Viktor Stalberg, Chris Kelly and Tommy Wingels.

 

 

Kassian gets three-year, $5.85 million commitment from Oilers

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Zack Kassian, after some terrific performances for the Oilers in the playoffs, has signed a three-year contract extension in Edmonton.

The deal is worth $5.85 million, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. That’s a cap hit just below $2 million.

Kassian, 26, seems to have salvaged his NHL career after missteps in Vancouver and Montreal. The big winger had seven goals and 17 games in 79 games for the Oilers during the regular season. But it was in the postseason where he really made an impact — especially in the first round against San Jose.

Twice Kassian scored game-winning goals against the Sharks. He was also a physical force:

Granted, Kassian was less noticeable in the second round, but the fact he received a three-year commitment from the Oilers speaks to the organization’s belief that he’s truly turned his life around.

Related: Kassian opens up about struggles with alcoholism