The Boston Bruins are headed to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth straight season after a 2-1 win over the Flyers at Philadelphia. Tim Thomas made 27 saves and Brad Marchand scored the winning goal on a power play with 3:43 left in regulation. Both Bruins goals came on the power play as Nathan Horton also lit the lamp on the man-advantage.
The Bruins now lead the Canadiens by seven points in the Northeast Division and trail the Capitals by four points for in the Eastern Conference.
B's officially headed to playoffs. With the win, the Bruins clinched a playoff spot for the fourth time in four seasons under coach Claude Julien. The Bruins also moved closer to wrapping up the Northeast Division, moving seven points ahead of the Canadiens with a game in hand. Montreal has only six games left.
Thomas back to Vezina form. Thomas was brilliant between the pipes, making 27 saves, just as he was on Dec. 1 at Philadelphia (41 saves in a 3-0 shutout). Thomas kept the Bruins in the game in the first period and again in the third, when the Flyers were buzzing. He appears to be back in top form with three strong performances following a four-game winless skid. Thomas now has 32 wins and is a clear favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
Power play taking baby steps, but looking better. Since March 1, the Bruins were only 3-for-35 on the power play heading into Sunday night’s game, but had power-play goals in two of their last three games. They continued that progress Sunday power-play tallies by Horton and Marchand on a 2-for-3 night. There is still plenty of room for improvement but execution on the man-advantage is getting better.
Marchand breaks 13-game scoreless streak. Marchand’s game-winner 16:17 into the third period broke a 13-game scoreless streak and gave the rookie 20 goals on the season. Marchand should be a lock for the team’s Seventh Player award as the player who has performed above and beyond expectations.
Horton keeps rolling. Horton, who scored his 23rd goal, has been turning it on at the right time with three goals in his last three games. Horton is playing with an edge and it’s translating into scoring.
Big second period. After Thomas bailed them out in the first period with some huge saves that kept the game from getting out of hand, the Bruins had a very good middle frame. They outshot the Flyers 14-7 and tied the game on Horton's strike.
Ryder scratched, Paille in. For the second time in seven games, Michael Ryder was a healthy scratch. Ryder also was scratched on March 15. He came back on March 17 and registered an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss at Nashville, but since then has no points in four games. Daniel Paille took his spot in the lineup and skated on a line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Here’s what the forward lines and defensive pairings looked like:
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Tough stretch ahead. The Bruins continue their grueling schedule of a game every other day until April 6. They host the Blackhawks Tuesday, the Maple Leafs on Thursday and the Thrashers on Saturday. They then travel to New York on April 4 to face the Rangers and head back to Boston to face the Islanders on April 6.