Thomas shuts down Flyers to give Bruins 2-0 series lead

Boston 3 Philadelphjia 2 OT PHILADELPHIA — David Krejci scored 14:00 into overtime, Tim Thomas was phenomenal in net, and the Boston Bruins beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher

Boston 3 Philadelphjia 2 OT

PHILADELPHIA — David Krejci scored 14:00 into overtime, Tim Thomas was phenomenal in net, and the Boston Bruins beat Philadelphia 3-2 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Thomas stopped 46 straight shots after the Flyers took a quick 2-0 lead. The series now shifts to Boston for the next two games on Wednesday and Friday.

Krejci fired a one-timer from one knee that ricocheted off the back off the net and back onto the ice. Play continued until officials could review the call, but the goal was clearly good.

“At first I thought it was in. Then they kept playing,” Krejci said.

James van Riemsdyk had a breakout game for the Flyers. He scored two goals and was all over the ice trying to help the Flyers win at least one at home.

Instead, they have to rally from another deficit.

Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand also scored for the Bruins, who have taken a seemingly commanding lead on the Flyers for the second straight year. Boston led 3-0 in the East semis a year ago before the Flyers won four straight to advance — including a rally from a 3-0 hole in Game 7.

Thomas was on the bench for that collapse.

He is determined not to let that happen on his watch. Thomas, who finished with 52 saves Monday, was tested under pressure all game and shook off the slow start to stop everything fired his way.

“By the third period, I was really starting to get into a rhythm which was a good thing because they were really getting off shots,” Thomas said.

Thomas stood strong when the Flyers outshot the Bruins 13-3 to open the third and took 22 overall in the period.

It was the one they didn’t shoot that haunted them. Danny Briere, who has seven goals this post-season, fanned on an easy look off a faceoff. Thomas was out of position after a blocked shot sent the puck to Briere, and the all-star seemingly just had to connect. His second attempt was stopped by Thomas as the final seconds of regulation ticked off.

“I never saw the puck,” Briere said.

Brian Boucher couldn’t hold off the OT charge.

Boucher won games this post-season as a starter and reliever. He mixed both in Game 2. Boucher stopped 21 shots before he left the game in the middle of the second after he appeared to hurt his wrist.

It was the fifth time in nine playoff games the Flyers made a goalie switch — the first because of injury rather than ineffectiveness. The score was 2-2 when Boucher left and when he returned.

The crowd was rocking from the start after they heard the usual stirring rendition of “God Bless America,” live by Lauren Hart and on video by the late Kate Smith. Fans chanted “U-S-A! U-S-A!” after lineups were introduced, and again after the song was finished, a day after Osama bin Laden was killed.

“That was pretty cool, as an American,” van Riemsdyk said. “And the fans are pretty passionate about sports and our country. That was pretty cool to be a part of.”

Van Riemsdyk kept 20,000 orange-clad fans roaring when he scored only 29 seconds into the game. He beat Thomas again midway into the period, mixing the power play with a dose of pride and patriotism, for the fast lead.

In these playoffs, a 2-0 lead almost seems like a 2-0 hole. The Flyers are forced to keep attacking because the goaltending has been so porous.

Sure enough, Boucher and the Flyers blew it in a hurry.

Kelly scored off a rebound, and Marchand’s wrister through Boucher’s legs gave Boston goals only 1:25 apart.

After a four-goal first, the teams settled down until Krejci’s winner.

The Bruins pounded Sergei Bobrovsky in his limited relief role, but the rookie stopped all six shots.

Boucher and Thomas both made game-saving goals at various points. Boucher stuffed Daniel Paille on the breakaway in the first; Thomas made a sliding, sweeping leg save to deny Nikolay Zherdev in the second.

“He was hot,” Briere said. “He was seeing every shot. I really believe if we keep playing the same way, we’ll get good results.”

Krejci hit the left post on an wide-open look against Bobrovsky, but made the most of his chance in overtime.

The Bruins lost defenceman Adam McQuaid in the first period after he slammed headfirst into the boards. McQuaid tried to throw an elbow at Mike Richards, but the Flyers captain sidestepped him, and McQuaid went down in a heap. He was motionless on the ice for several minutes and needed a trainer and help back to the locker-room.

That evened the score on injured defencemen.

Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger sat out with an undisclosed injury. Pronger missed games in the Flyers’ first-round series against Buffalo while he recovered from a broken right hand. The Flyers sent out an injury report after Monday morning’s pre-game skate that stated Pronger was “OK.”

Guess not.

Notes: The Flyers set a team record for shots in a period in a home playoff game with 22 in the third. The overall record is 28 set in 1997 against Pittsburgh.

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