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Bruins 3, Flyers 2

Rave review

Krejci OT goal, saves by Thomas lift Bruins

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / May 3, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — When you win your fourth overtime game of the playoffs, like the Bruins did last night before 19,962 at the Wells Fargo Center, there are sure to be heroes.

At 14:00 of OT, David Krejci scored the winner — his third goal in two games — to give his club a 3-2 victory over the Flyers and a 2-0 series lead. Krejci’s shot ricocheted off the back of the net and play continued, but after a video review, it was ruled a goal.

Among the other players who chipped in were Chris Kelly, once a checking-line ace in Ottawa, who banged in Boston’s first goal. And Brad Marchand, the never-quit sparkplug, who tied the game at 14:15 of the first.

But there was no player who stood taller than Tim Thomas. This season, Thomas has been a wonder. The goaltender is sure to claim the Vezina Trophy, his second in three years, next month in Las Vegas.

Last night, Thomas was simply sublime. Consider the Danny Briere breakaway he snuffed in the third. The point-blank stop of a Mike Richards chance later in the third. Or the last-ditch kickout of a James van Riemsdyk attempt at the end of regulation.

“Tonight was special,’’ said defenseman Andrew Ference. “Without a doubt. He was incredible. That third period and on was a clinic. I don’t even know what to say anymore. He’s just unbelievable.’’

Game 2 was playoff hockey at its best. Every shift was competitive. The battle level was off the charts. Players hit to hurt. This was a four-star, 10-out-of-10 dandy. And Thomas was the best of the bunch.

He turned back all 22 Flyers shots in the third. He stopped 10 more in overtime. By the time the smoke around his crease cleared, Thomas had turned back 52 of 54 pucks.

“Phenomenal,’’ said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “That’s why he’s one of the Vezina finalists. That’s probably why we’re in so many games, just because of him. He’s playing so well and gives us more confidence.’’

The aura shone the brightest around Thomas. But last night, nearly all the stars came out to sparkle.

Van Riemsdyk, known as JVR by his teammates and coaching staff, is now officially VarsityR. The former University of New Hampshire star scored both of Philadelphia’s goals. He could have potted five more if not for Thomas’s heroics.

One of van Riemsdyk’s best bids came at the end of regulation. After Richards (game-high 10 shots) beat Kelly on an offensive-zone draw, van Riemsdyk turned and whipped a sizzler on goal. Thomas kicked out the shot with his right pad, sending the game into OT.

As ferocious as van Riemsdyk was late, the left wing was virtually unstoppable early. In the opening minute, after an ill-timed pinch by Ference led to a two-on-one rush, van Riemsdyk buried a Claude Giroux dish only 29 seconds into the night.

Then at 9:31, with Gregory Campbell in the box for holding Dan Carcillo, van Riemsdyk netted a power-play goal. Thomas turned back a Kimmo Timonen blast, then stopped a pair of Briere close-range attempts. But he could do nothing to foil a van Riemsdyk backhander that gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

At this point, however, the Bruins shrug off deficits, in a game or a series. Just over three minutes later, they pushed back. After Rich Peverley laid a drop pass for Tomas Kaberle in the offensive zone, Michael Ryder provided textbook middle drive, splitting the Philadelphia defensemen. As Ryder went to the net, Kaberle shot a puck that Brian Boucher stopped. Boucher then got a piece of Ryder’s rebound attempt. But Boucher could do nothing about Kelly, who crashed the net and banged in the rebound at 12:50.

The Flyers swung another punch of their own. Just over a minute later, Briere was staring down an empty net. But he didn’t account for Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins believe Bergeron got snubbed out of a Selke Trophy nomination. He can file game tape from last night as evidence.

With a strong swipe of his stick, Bergeron broke up Briere’s net-front chance. Later in the shift, at the other end, Bergeron carried the puck down the right wing, then spotted Marchand open in the slot. Marchand winged the tying shot through Boucher at 14:15. Bergeron had the assist — both offensively and defensively.

“I told Bergy as soon as we got to the bench that it was all him,’’ Marchand said. “He did a great job. He saved a goal, then made a great play getting it up to me. That started the whole play.’’

In the overtime, Braydon Coburn had the puck deep in the right corner. As a predatory Milan Lucic chased him down, Coburn rimmed the puck around the wall. Timonen couldn’t pick the puck off the boards. Instead, it rolled to the blade of Nathan Horton, who had just stepped onto the ice. Once Horton fed Krejci and the center canned a sizzler over Boucher, the red light never went on. Neither referee, Eric Furlatt nor Marc Joannette, signaled a good goal.

But high above the ice, in the suite where the Bruins’ bosses sat, thumps and a staccato of laudatory curses sounded. From their perch, president Cam Neely, general manager Peter Chiarelli, and assistant GMs Jim Benning and Don Sweeney spotted what video replay soon confirmed: a 3-2 win. And a 2-0 series lead.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto

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