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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Pending free agents, Radulov and Zaitsev won’t play for Russia at Worlds

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Montreal’s Alexander Radulov and Toronto’s Nikita Zaitsev will not play for Russia at the upcoming World Championship, even though the Canadiens and Maple Leafs have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Both Radulov and Zaitsev are pending free agents, and it would be a risk to play ahead of contract negotiations.

Zaitsev just recovered from an upper-body injury, possibly a concussion. It may, in fact, have been the Leafs who refused to let him go.

Radulov, 30, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Zaitsev, 25, will be of the restricted variety, assuming he doesn’t sign an extension first. 

Read more: Radulov denies he wants eight-year extension

They aren’t the only players skipping the Worlds due to their contract situations. Chicago’s Richard Panik and Vancouver’s Bo Horvat will not be taking the risk either.

Longtime Berenson assistant Pearson named new Michigan coach

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Michigan went the familiar route in replacing legendary head coach Red Berenson.

Mel Person, who spent 23 years as Berenson’s assistant before taking the head gig at Michigan Tech, has been named the ninth head coach in UM Hockey history, the school announced on Monday.

“I am thrilled to select Mel to lead our hockey program and for him to return home to U-M following tremendous success in leading the Michigan Tech program,” said director of athletics Warde Manuel. “I’ve known Mel for years and experienced his leadership ability when I was the sport administrator for hockey and he was an assistant under Red (Berenson).

“Mel’s qualifications are well known throughout the hockey community and reach far beyond his ability to coach. Simply put, I couldn’t have selected a finer person to lead our ice hockey program into the future.”

Pearson, 58, took Michigan Tech to a pair of NCAA Tournaments during his six years on the job. Several players advanced to the NHL on his watch including Chicago’s Tanner Kero, Edmonton’s Jujhar Khaira and New Jersey’s Blake Pietila.

Two weeks ago, Berenson stepped down from his post at Michigan after 33 years on the job. Together, he and Pearson captured two national championships together.

Backstrom believes Caps are ‘underdogs’ against Pens

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The Washington Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy by seven points over the Pittsburgh Penguins this season, but someone forgot to tell Nicklas Backstrom.

Heading into their second-round matchup against Pittsburgh, Backstrom believes the Capitals are the underdogs in the series, per beat reporter Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Well Nicklas, that’s one way to look at it.

Backstrom is clearly trying to take some of the pressure off of his team’s shoulders, but maybe he’s onto something.

As you may remember, a similar situation arose last year. The Capitals had more points than any other team in 2015-16, but that didn’t stop them from being eliminated by these same Penguins in the second round. Eventually, Pittsburgh went on to hoist the Stanley Cup.

This time, the Capitals won’t have to worry about star defenseman Kris Letang, as he’s out with an upper-body injury. Pittsburgh was able to overcome the Letang injury (Matt Murray too) in round one against Columbus, but Washington is a different animal.

Even without Letang, getting by Pittsburgh won’t be easy, especially when stars like Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby are rolling.

Malkin finished the first round with two goals and an incredible 11 points in five games, while Kessel and Crosby had eight and seven points respectively against Columbus.

Things were a little more difficult offensively for Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, as they posted six, three and three points in six games against the Leafs.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who has the most points and it doesn’t matter who the underdog is in the series either. All that counts is advancing through to the next round.

PHT Morning Skate: Are Thornton and Marleau done in San Jose?

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–After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last year, the San Jose Sharks lasted just one round in 2017. With both Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st, could their time in San Jose be over? We know that Logan Couture wants both players to come back, but would that be the right decision? Allowing them to leave could thrust young players into roles they’re not ready for, but keeping them around and icing a similar team could lead to another first-round exit. (Mercury News)

–The Philadelphia Flyers took a step back this season, as they failed to make the playoffs, but at least the future appears to be bright. They’ve managed to stockpile quality prospects and their farm team finished with the second best record in the AHL. (Philly.com)

–Former NHLer Brandon Prust spent a couple of months hanging around the Leafs earlier this season, but he never ended up getting a contract so he went off to Germany. Prust said the experience was great, but he was a little frustrated that Toronto decided to acquire players like Eric Fehr and Brian Boyle instead of giving him a shot. “I feel I belonged there and I could have helped that team; but what are you going to do? That’s hockey. I felt they really needed a guy like me; and I know I could have helped them. Then they go and make trades for players similar to me. It’s tough.” (Yahoo)

–Justin Bieber made an appearance at the ACC last night. He was wearing a custom Leafs jersey, and he seemed to be pretty into it. Unfortunately for Biebs, his team couldn’t extend the series to seven games. (BarDown)

–The Toronto Maple Leafs pushed the Washington Capitals as much as they could, but they just ran out of steam in Game 6. Check out the highlights from the Caps’ 2-1 OT win by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Braden Holtby, Sergei Bobrovsky and Carey Price were named finalists for the Vezina Trophy. The Hockey News makes a case for each of the three goaltenders, but Bobrovsky’s gotta be considered the favorite.  Jared Clinton writes: “It’s not just Bobrovsky’s base numbers that are impressive, either. His underlying numbers makes his case further. The only goaltending with 1,000-plus minutes at 5-on-5 to post a better SP than Bobrovsky’s .939 mark was Craig Anderson.” (The Hockey News)

–It sounds like Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is pretty confident that Auston Matthews is going to walk away with the Calder Trophy this year: