BOSTON — Boston’s Brad Marchand worked harder during the offseason to be stronger late in games. The Bruins were sure glad he was out there Saturday.
Marchand scored the tying goal and the game-winner in a 3-2 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers, helping the Bruins in their fight for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff berth.
Marchand sent it to overtime with 14.1 seconds left in regulation by tipping a shot past goaltender Steve Mason for a power-play goal. He scored the winner with 1:08 to play in OT by firing a backhand shot that caromed in off of defenseman Michael Del Zotto’s skate.
”I think a lot of guys tend to strive in that situation and I want to be out there,” Marchand said about the power play in the closing two minutes. ”I want that challenge and I think any guy in the NHL wants it. I’m glad they showed that faith in me.”
Zdeno Chara had a power-play goal for Boston and goaltender Tuukka Rask made 29 saves, including two excellent stops in OT.
But the Bruins wouldn’t have been in OT without Marchand.
”He said at the end of the year that he didn’t feel like he had trained properly,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. ”He felt like he was getting tired quickly and trained a little differently this year, and his stamina is a lot better and its made a big difference.”
Chris Vandevelde and Jakub Voracek scored for the Flyers, who fell five points behind Boston for the conference’s final playoff berth.
Mason, who made 34 saves for Philadelphia, said the loss really hurt.
”Yeah, you’re 15 seconds away from pulling it out,” he said. ”They found a way to win it and we found a way to lose it.”
Mason fell to 1-9-5 in road games.
The Bruins are 4-1-1 in their last six games after losing six straight (0-4-2).
Marchand cut in front and fired a backhand shot that slipped by Mason for the game-winner. It was his team-leading 21st goal.
The Flyers had taken a 2-1 lead with 4:30 left in regulation when Nick Schultz shot a wrister toward the net that Vandevelde tipped past Rask.
Boston had a power play and pulled Rask in the final two minutes, keeping the puck in the Flyers’ zone for the entire time, before tying it when Marchand tipped Dougie Hamilton’s shot.
Flyers coach Craig Berube wasn’t about to call the loss ”crushing” when asked to describe it.
”Crushing? Well, we’re winning 2-1, get that kill and we win the game,” he said. ”It hurts, but crushing? I don’t know about that. I mean, we’ve got to go play Jersey tomorrow, so I’m done with this game. We got a point, should have had two, but it didn’t happen.”
Rask made a pair of splendid saves in OT, making a stick save on Voracek’s breakaway and pad save on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Skating with a man advantage after center Ryan White was sent off for hooking, Chara gave Boston a 1-0 lead 7:07 into the first when his wrister from the left point made its way through traffic in front of Mason.
A few minutes after the score, Mason robbed Max Talbot with a left-pad stop of a rebound shot from the edge of the crease.
The Flyers evened it 1-1 with a power-play goal midway into the second. With Matt Bartkowski off for tripping, Voracek collected a rebound at the right circle and fired a wrist shot that beat Rask inside the far post.
NOTES: The Flyers had scored just one goal against Boston in each of the other two meetings this season, both losses. … The Bruins have another afternoon game Sunday, hosting the Detroit Red Wings. The Flyers face the New Jersey Devils Sunday evening. … There was an interesting equipment switch in the first period when Boston’s 6-foot-5 defenseman Adam McQuaid broke his stick and got a shorter one from his 5-foot-9 winger Marchand. … McQuaid skated slowly to the bench, favoring his left knee after a hit that sent him awkwardly into the boards in the second. He returned to action a few minutes later. … Philadelphia is under .500 lifetime against only two teams – Boston and Montreal.