Bruins grab first win of preseason, 3-1 over Flyers

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 16: Jaroslav Halak #41 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on January 16, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Bruins 4-3. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

Led by strong goaltending from Jaroslav Halak and Maxime Lagace, as well as a late-game breakaway strike from defenseman Connor Clifton, the Bruins captured their first win of the preseason on Thursday by way of a 3-1 final over the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Bruins opened up the scoring in the first period behind Danton Heinen's first goal of the preseason, scored 7:47 into the opening period, and created by strong puck-possession from Charlie Coyle before a centering feed that went through five Philadelphia skaters to find Heinen in all alone on Brian Elliott and with an open cage.

The Flyers answered before the end of the opening 20, though, as defenseman Matt Niskanen, acquired from the Capitals in a summertime trade that sent Radko Gudas to DC, came through with a shot that beat Halak just 4:11 after the Heinen tally.

Deadlocked at 1-1 and with the Bruins on the penalty kill, Halak redeemed himself for the Niskanen goal with what will absolutely go down as one of the best saves of the preseason or season for that matter. With a deflection through Halak and sitting on the goal line for a putaway chance for Morgan Frost, the veteran Halak reached behind himself and appeared to come through with a no-look, backhanded glove save that straight-up baffled Frost.

Tied at 1-1 through the first 20 minutes of action, Bruce Cassidy's Bruins regained the lead at the 4:16 mark of the middle period on Peter Cehlarik's first goal of the preseason, with the assist on the strike going to Brendan Gaunce.

From there, the Bruins buckled down defensively, killing off all five of Philadelphia's power-play opportunities by the night's end, and found the aforementioned insurance marker when Clifton sprung out of the penalty box and on a breakaway. It's a goal that likely could have been prevented had Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon, a mid-game reliever for Elliott, had alerted his teammates of the expiring penalty by way of some stick-slams (as every goaltender is taught to do) that never came.

Halak stopped 16-of-17 shots in two periods of play, while Lagace made seven saves on seven shots against in the third period.

Clifton, meanwhile, led all Boston defensemen in time on ice, with 21:59, while Sean Kuraly was the team's top minute-eater up front, logging 18:48 of action (including 3:59 of shorthanded time on ice) in the win.

The Bruins resume their preseason schedule Saturday night in Chicago.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.