Flyers outplay Bruins in season opener

Bruins goalie Tim Thomas can't make the save on a first-period goal by Flyers forward Jakub Voracek as Danny Briere watches.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas can't make the save on a first-period goal by Flyers forward Jakub Voracek as Danny Briere watches. (CHARLES KRUPA / Associated Press)
Posted: October 07, 2011

BOSTON - The Flyers on Thursday night returned to earsplitting TD Garden, where their disappointing season ended last spring - and caused general manager Paul Holmgren to do a roster transplant.

Opening their season on a night when Boston lifted its Stanley Cup banner to the rafters, the Flyers ruined the Bruins' celebratory mood.

They got goals from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek in a hard-fought, 2-1 win that featured an impressive Flyers debut by goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

"You come to a game here and they're raising the banner, and it's pretty much a slap in our face," said Giroux, whose team was swept by Boston in last season's conference semifinals. "It's a motivation to get payback. Even if it's just the first game of the season, it's good for our ego, and everybody was just ready to go tonight."

The Flyers used the blueprint Holmgren put together when he dismantled his team in the offseason. In other words, they won because Bryzgalov was superb and because their heralded defense was as good as advertised.

Boston managed just 23 shots, including 11 in the final period.

While the Bruins were on a late power play, defenseman Kimmo Timonen made the biggest save of the night, lunging and deflecting Nathan Horton's point-blank shot with his stick near the goal crease. Horton appeared to have an empty net as Bryzgalov was out of position with a little over nine minutes left.

"I saw the puck go to the back door, and Kimmo did an amazing save for me - and that's what you call a partnership," Bryzgalov said with a smile.

In the first half of the game, Bryzgalov (22 saves, many of them difficult) said his "toes were so freezing" because he wasn't getting many shots his way. "But as the game went on, Boston started shooting the puck more and got possession in our zone, and I got warmed up."

Goals by Giroux (power play) and newcomer Voracek in the last 50 seconds of the first period put the Flyers ahead, 2-1. Boston's Brad Marchand had streaked behind Timonen and scored on a power-play breakaway earlier in the period.

After taking a pass from Jaromir Jagr, Giroux made a series of dazzling moves to produce the equalizer. Giroux weaved around defenders Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the middle of the ice and beat goalie Tim Thomas with 50 seconds left in the period. The assist was Jagr's 1,600th career point, most among active NHL players.

With 2.4 seconds to go in the period, Voracek took a rebound off Andrej Meszaros' shot and scored on a spin-around from the slot, stunning the crowd.

"It's a great start," Voracek said. "I think they were better the first 10 minutes, but Bryz held them off" before the Flyers found their rhythm.

With 12 minutes, 34 seconds left in the second period, Chara, Boston's mammoth defenseman, banged Giroux into the boards, raising James van Riemsdyk's ire. Van Riemsdyk went after Chara, and the two received roughing penalties.

The Bruins embarrassed the Flyers in last season's conference semifinals, putting together a four-game sweep and outscoring them, 20-7, en route to their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

That put into motion the wildest makeover in the Flyers' history. They had nine new players in their lineup Thursday.

Before the game, a long ceremony - which included former Flyer Mark Recchi, who is now retired, coming onto the ice in his Boston uniform and being presented a jacket - was held, and the Cup banner was raised, delaying the start about a half hour. Many members of the Bruins' 1972 title team, including Bobby Orr, Derek Sanderson, and Johnny "Pie" McKenzie, presented the 2011 banner.

The Flyers stayed in the locker room during the ceremony.

"It's not mine," said Briere, referring to the championship banner, "so I don't really care what happens out there."

Bryzgalov kidded about what he did during the ceremony. "I took my gear off and went back to the hotel and took a 20-minute nap and came back again," he said.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at or @BroadStBull on Twitter.





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