Location matters little when the Bruins play the Philadelphia Flyers. The B’s have beaten them at the Garden. They’ve beaten them at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. And now they’ve trounced the Flyers — expected to be one of their chief rivals for the East Division crown — in the idyllic mountain setting on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
Playing on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev., the B’s got goals from three of their four lines (David Pastrnak notched a hat trick) and another from the back end to capture a 7-3 victory on Sunday night. It was their fifth win in as many tries against the Flyers this year.
As they had with their Peaky Blinders outfits for the Notre Dame Winter Classic two years ago, the B’s made a splash again with their themed wardrobe, a ’90s retro look conjured up by captain Patrice Bergeron — fanny packs, fluorescent warmup jackets and jumpsuits. With the win in their back pockets, many had no qualms about throwing the garish gear back on after the game.
“It was beautiful,” said Pastrnak, wearing his Randy “Macho Man” Savage shades for the post-game interview. “Playing in both the sun and the dark, it was really great. Overall it was an unbelievable experience. It was great dressing up. We knew we were going to have some fun, but as soon as the puck was dropped, we were focused on the game.”
Delayed about a half-hour, the game began at the start of a sunset that would have been spectacular if you were sitting out on the back deck sipping some wine, but it sure looked like it presented major challenges to the men who were trying to play professional hockey.
But even though the B’s started the game looking directly into the glare, they managed to score just 34 seconds into the game.
After Bergeron blocked a shot in the defensive zone, Brad Marchand broke out on a 2-on-1 with Pastrnak. Looking directly into the sun, Marchand elected to pass and Pastrnak buried his seventh of the year.
The Flyers tied it up at 6:41 off a strange bounce off the end boards. Sean Couturier, who’d missed the previous four games against the B’s, dumped a puck into the Boston zone and it bounced directly into the slot, where Joel Farabee was charging hard down the middle and he slipped it between Tuukka Rask’s pads.
The misfortune continued. Just after a Bruin power play ended, Charlie McAvoy’s stick broke on a slap-shot attempt and the Flyers broke the other way. As McAvoy retreated desperately to get a stick and defend, a member of the B’s equipment staff was holding out a fresh one, but Brandon Carlo tried to help out, too, holding out his stick. McAvoy tried to limbo under Carlo’s stick and grab his own, but he couldn’t grab it and headed back without a stick. Rask had made a poke check on the initial chance, but the B’s could not clear it and Couturier, who’d just come out of the box, cleaned up the loose puck for a 2-1 Flyer lead at 14:48.
But McAvoy and the B’s got it right back 39 seconds later. Marchand did a good job of winning a puck behind the net and dished it out to McAvoy. Using a Bergeron screen, McAvoy pounded his second of the year past Carter Hart to even it up.
Both teams went into the game banged up. The Flyers had six key players missing because of COVID-19 protocols — including Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek — while the B’s were missing David Krejci and half of their six regular defensemen. They didn’t get out of the first without losing another one. Jeremy Lauzon was lost on his first shift of the game to an upper body injury and did not return. Coach Bruce Cassidy did not have an update after the game.
The second period started with nothing left of the sun but an afterglow, and the B’s took charge in the more favorable conditions. And they began the second like they did the first, taking a one-goal lead in the first minute. During the first line change of the period, Nick Ritchie pulled up on an off-wing rush and found Pastrnak at the right circle. With the puck rolling, Pastrnak sniped a shortside, bar-down shot past Hart 46 seconds into the period.
The B’s started to tilt the ice in their favor and they eventually broke the game open late in the period with three goals in a 1:19 span.
First, the struggling Charlie Coyle scored his first goal in 11 games when he hit the shortside post and it bounced off Hart and in, his third of the season.
Then, 33 seconds later, Trent Frederic scored his first NHL goal when his long-distance wrister found its way past Hart’s glove.
“It was one of those pinch yourself moments,” said Frederic.
Finally, after Flyer Andy Andreoff took a bad roughing penalty on Sean Kuraly after Frederic’s goal, the B’s went up 6-2 when Ritchie deflected John Moore’s power-play shot past Hart and the B’s were on their way.
While Hart — replaced by Brian Elliott for the third period — probably should have stopped one of the shots, the B’s dominated the period, outshooting the Flyers, 15-3, on their way to the rout.
UNH grad James van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal in the third, but they weren’t catching the B’s on this night. Pastrnak scored his third of the game in garbage time to complete the scoring.