What do you get when you combine a record-setting snowstorm and two teams at the top of their respective divisions squaring off in a rare important January game?
Apparently, total chaos.
On a night which saw the Flyers carry a one-goal lead into the third period, little-known Steven Kampfer notched the game winner late in regulation as the Boston Bruins outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers, 7-5, in a wild, playoff-like contest at TD Garden.
Mark Recchi, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell all posted a goal and one assist for the Bruins, who won their third straight game and moved four points ahead of idle Montreal in the Northeast Division (55-51).
Tim Thomas was shelled for five goals on 35 shots but improved to 20-4-6 on the year for Boston, which made like Mother Nature and buried their foes by scoring five times in the third period.
“Yes, that was a roller coaster. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out that way, and you got to roll with the punches and we did a good job with that,” said Thomas of the contest, which featured multiple lead changes. “That’s part of keeping the even keel is no matter what adversity you face or what comes your way, you just figure out a way to overcome it and do your job.”
Danny Briere and Nikolay Zherdev notched a goal and a helper each for the Flyers, whose four-game win streak was halted, but remained atop the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with 59 points, one better than idle Pittsburgh.
Scott Hartnell, Jeff Carter and Sean O’Donnell also scored but Brian Boucher allowed a season-high six goals on 36 shots in defeat.
Philadelphia fell to 1-2-0 against Boston this season, with one more matchup scheduled for March 27 on South Broad Street.
Less than four minutes after the Flyers moved ahead for the final time, Brad Marchand took a Campbell pass and launched a 40-footer just under the crossbar from between the circles with 8:34 remaining to tie the game, 5-5.
There was a bit of controversy on the goal, as several Philly players contended the clearing attempt that started the rush hit the netting above the glass, which should have halted the action.
“Yeah, well, me and I think it was Scott Hartnell down low, we both stopped playing because he shot it directly out in the netting,” Briere admitted. You know, it was tough for [Referee Brad] Watson to see it because he was right there he had his back turned but I thought one of the other three guys would have seen that called it. It’s a bad bounce, what are you going to do?”
Despite failing to click on a power play with 4:34 to go, the Bruins assumed a 6-5 edge with 1:14 left in regulation when Kampfer gathered in a failed clear at the edge of the right circle and blasted a shot that settled high and inside the left post.
“I didn’t see it,” Boucher said about the game-deciding tally. “I was covering low because we had a guy skate through, and he shot it, when the guy was skating through and I didn’t pick it up.”
Boucher was pulled twice in the final 80 seconds, and Campbell finished off the frenetic victory with an empty-netter.
It was the most goals given up by Peter Laviolette’s squad since that infamous 8-7 home setback to Tampa Bay on November 18.
The Flyers needed just 3:34 of game time to take a 1-0 lead when Hartnell’s shot from the goal line to the right of Thomas hit the far post and bounced in.
The Bruins had a 5-on-3 advantage for more than a minute late in the first, and after a wild scramble in front, the puck was worked back to Marc Savard, who fed Chara for a blistering one-timer in the right circle at 18:16.
Only 45 seconds into the second, Bergeron’s floater from the blue line changed direction off bodies in front and sailed by Boucher.
Philly knotted the game with 4:35 to play in the second, as Andreas Nodl managed to send a long outlet pass up the middle for Zherdev in stride, and he deked to the backhand and beat a sprawled Thomas on a breakaway.
Carter then put the visitors up 3-2 with 35.7 seconds left, on a rocket from the left circle.
It was 3-3 just 38 seconds into the third, when a clear from Chara hit the back boards and rebounded in front. Boucher was still behind the net when Recchi scored on a tap-in.
Michael Ryder’s deflection of an Adam McQuaid dish at the right post trickled through Boucher and the Bruins led 4-3 at 1:48, but Briere converted a Braydon Coburn rebound into an open net exactly five minutes later for a 4-4 deadlock.
It was a 5-4 lead for Philadelphia less than a minute later when Mike Richards curled on the right side and sent a cross-ice pass for O’Donnell, who beat Thomas glove side.
“Yeah, for sure I thought we stayed composed all game,” said Bergeron, who netted a hat trick in Boston’s 6-0 win over Ottawa on Tuesday. “We didn’t panic when they took a one-goal lead, they actually did it twice, so it’s something that we need to build from and learn from and it was a fun game to be a part of but I thought it was a real good effort.”
Notes: This was the highest-scoring game between the clubs in Boston since the Bruins won 8-5 on February 4, 1984 — which also featured a five-goal third period from the B’s…O’Donnell notched his first goal with Philadelphia, and his first score since March 30 with Los Angeles against Nashville…Blake Wheeler notched two assists for the Bruins, and Ville Leino countered with two helpers for Philadelphia…Flyers defenseman Matt Walker made his season debut, after missing 42 games following two hip surgeries, one in October and the other in late December…The five goals given up were a season-high for Thomas, who allowed four on two other occasions.