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Bruins 2, Flyers 1

Walkoff classic

Sturm’s goal in overtime completes a Bruins’ comeback worthy of Fenway lore

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / January 2, 2010

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Per his lifetime habit as a hockey player, Patrice Bergeron looks skyward after certain plays to watch scoreboard replays, only to check himself for his mistake. Yesterday, naturally, all Bergeron would see was the sky over Fenway Park.

Good thing. Had there been a roof over Fenway, it would have crumbled into powder and fluttered onto the rink like so many snowflakes. At 1:57 of overtime, 38,112 fans exploded after Marco Sturm tipped a puck past Michael Leighton to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia in the Winter Classic.

“This was an unbelievable scenario,’’ said coach Claude Julien, shedding the tan fedora he wore on the bench. “Not just the game, but looking around. This is my second one, but there’s no doubt there was something special about this park that kept you in awe.’’

Even before yesterday’s win, this had been a Disney-scripted Classic. The rain predicted earlier in the week was nowhere to be found. Puck-drop temperature was 39 degrees.

On Thursday, the Bruins scrimmaged under a shower of grin-prompting snowflakes - their families also took twirls on the Fenway ice after the practice - that had the players buzzing well into the night at their team hotel.

Yesterday, once the Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 4:42 of the second period, the sentiment was the following: Why not win to cap off the spectacle?

“It’s Fenway Park. It’s history. It’s something you’re going to remember the rest of your life,’’ Bergeron said. “You want to be on the good side of the outcome. You want to win.’’

First, Tim Thomas, the goat on Danny Syvret’s opening goal (the hot-headed netminder, in retribution for an uncalled interference infraction on Scott Hartnell, cross-checked the bushy-haired agitator and left his net vacant), saved the day by foiling Danny Briere twice in overtime. Then the Bruins turned to Bergeron and Marco Sturm, the duo who have played together for so long that each of their movements have become second nature.

Sturm, just inside the blue line, won a battle against Matt Carle and swatted the puck to Bergeron along the boards. In turn, Bergeron blew past Mike Richards and chased down the puck. As Bergeron turned for the net, Sturm, knowing what was coming, sprinted to the slot. On cue, Bergeron’s feed arrived at the perfect time for Sturm to tip into the net, prompting a pig-pile celebration - the Bruins swarmed into the corner just along the third-base cranny that juts into left field - that would have spilled onto Lansdowne Street had the boards not been there.

“It happened right in front of me,’’ said Zdeno Chara, first to swarm Sturm after the winning goal. “Sturmy jumped. We all jumped. The crowd reacted. That’s the best you can ask for - to be on the ice for the game-winning goal and see your teammate being happy. We were all hugging each other like we won the Cup. It was a great feeling.’’

The celebration, both on the ice and in the stands, was something the Bruins weren’t sure they’d witness. For 55 minutes, while the Flyers were generating most of the scoring chances on Thomas (24 saves), the Bruins did little - the first-period throwdown between Shawn Thornton and Daniel Carcillo being the exception - to prompt excitement from their fans. As much natural buzz existed within Fenway, there was nothing equaling the jubilation of the home team scoring.

That all changed, finally, after Kimmo Timonen was whistled for tripping Chara in the Philadelphia crease at 16:08. On the power play, the No. 2 unit worked their left-side half-wall play to perfection. After Mark Recchi dived to keep possession of the puck, David Krejci, from the left boards, dished to Bergeron at the point. With a hard head-and-shoulders pump, Bergeron faked a pass to Derek Morris, which left Flyers penalty killer Jeff Carter out of position, then slipped a return feed to Krejci.

“I was ready to shoot it,’’ Krejci said. “Maybe that’s why they thought I was going to shoot it and they sagged back.’’

A fat passing lane opened, and Krejci hit Morris with a cross-ice pass. As Morris locked and loaded, Recchi fronted Carle, planted his blade on the ice, and waited. Morris slapped a pass to Recchi, and the veteran shoveled the puck past Leighton to tie the score with 2:18 remaining.

“It kicked in when I got to the bench,’’ Recchi said of realizing the significance of the moment. “Just excited. We got in a big pile and were screaming at each other. We got to the bench, and looking around, realizing the place was going nuts, it was a very special feeling, that’s for sure.’’

It all came together. Thomas, having lost his cool, comes back to win the Classic on a day he fulfills a lifetime dream by making the US Olympic team. Bergeron, the comeback kid who was named to the Canadian Olympic roster earlier in the week, picks up the key assist in overtime. The fans are treated to the frozen equivalent of a game-ending home run.

And the Bruins claim 2 points.

“Winning it,’’ said Julien, “makes everything that’s happened here the last couple days even better. We had a great time [Thursday]. Our players, families, everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. Guys going back to their rooms [Thursday] night after we had a team meal, they were telling me how much they appreciated that day and how special it was for all of them and their families. When you come back the next day and win the game, you can talk about this forever. It’s a great story.’’

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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