Boston Bruins’ goalie situation uncertain ahead of Flyers rematch

Apr 5, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle (13) and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Justin Braun (61) compete for position during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

After finally collecting a win in their season series against Boston, the Philadelphia Flyers will look to make it two victories in as many nights when they host the Bruins on Tuesday.

A 3-2 overtime victory on Monday was Philadelphia’s first win in six games (1-3-2) against Boston this season. Defenseman Travis Sanheim scored the winner on an unexpected breakaway, as Bruins center Patrice Bergeron stumbled and fell while skating back to stop Sanheim’s rush up the ice.

Though Boston also earned a point for the overtime defeat, the win brought the Flyers a step closer in the race for the final East Division playoff spot. The Bruins sit in fourth place with 44 points and two games at hand over Philadelphia, while the Flyers are in fifth place with 41 points.

It was just the second time in 13 games (11-0-2) this season that Boston didn’t win after taking a lead into the third period. The Flyers trailed 2-1 through 46 minutes until Sean Couturier equalized the score with a power-play marker.

“Coming back in the NHL when you’re down after two (periods) is extremely hard,” Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault said. “Coming back against the Bruins is probably an even bigger task with the veteran group that they have.”

The miscue in overtime spoiled a milestone game for Bergeron. He scored a goal to notch the 899th point of his NHL career, putting him in sole possession of fourth place on the Bruins’ all-time points list.

Bergeron’s goal came on the power play, continuing the Flyers’ season-long issues on the penalty kill. The Bruins have taken particular advantage, scoring nine goals on 18 power-play chances against Philadelphia this season.

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Boston could get some reinforcement on the blue line for Tuesday, as defenseman Kevan Miller has been practicing and could return from the knee injury that has sidelined him for the past 20 games.

“He’s put some good work in. (Monday’s practice) was maybe one of the final tune-ups,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Obviously back-to-backs are gonna be a challenge. We’re going to have to monitor that the way the year has gone.”

The Bruins may need the extra defensive help given their uncertainty in net. Rookie Jeremy Swayman could be on tap for his first career NHL appearance since Boston’s other three goaltending candidates may be unavailable.

Dan Vladar started Monday’s game, making 29 saves, and is unlikely to play in consecutive days. Jaroslav Halak entered COVID-19 protocols prior to Monday’s game after testing positive for the coronavirus. Tuukka Rask (back injury) continues to practice, but Cassidy said Rask wasn’t a candidate to play during the two-game series with Philadelphia.

After Brian Elliott stopped 27 of 29 shots on Monday, Carter Hart will start for the Flyers on Tuesday. In Hart’s first game back after an eight-day break, he delivered a strong 22-save performance in the Flyers’ 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.

Hart is 0-2-2 with a 5.32 goals against average and an .843 save percentage in four games against Boston this year.

Couturier has five goals and four assists in his past seven games.

In the second half of sets of games on consecutive days this season, the Flyers are 4-2-0 and the Bruins are 1-3-0.

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–Field Level Media