Bruins make no mistake, finish sweep
Last night, in the same ditch they found themselves a year earlier, the Flyers wanted to create some doubt with a win. That doubt never came.
In a ruthless and efficient manner, the Bruins punted the Flyers from the playoffs and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay with a 5-1 win before 17,565 at TD Garden. Soon after the fifth goal — Daniel Paille vultured an empty-netter from Gregory Campbell with an inadvertent tip — Philadelphia’s season was over. By night’s end, the Bruins were shaking hands with the Flyers before the Broad Street Bullies even had time to spit on their gloves and flaunt their standard surliness in the four-game series.
The Bruins haven’t appeared in the conference finals since 1992.
Last year, the Bruins gave the Flyers life. This season, the only thing the Bruins handed over was rope with which to choke off the Flyers.
This was no slow death, like dumping a lobster into a pot of water and turning on the gas. This was a knife to the back of its head.
“I think the good thing for us in this series is that whenever they had some life, had a few shifts, and looked like they were getting momentum, we took it right back,’’ said Campbell. “That was a strong point made by our team.’’
The dark point, however, took place early in the third period. Claude Giroux buried Patrice Bergeron with an open-ice hit. Bergeron got up slowly, then skated off the ice on his own. He never returned. Coach Claude Julien said he had no updates on the condition of Bergeron, who has suffered two concussions in the past.
The Bruins cannot afford the loss of Bergeron. The center has been their most valuable and complete player in the playoffs.
If Bergeron is unavailable for the start of the third round, the Bruins will need their other centermen to assume more responsibilities. Campbell is one such center.
In the first period, when the game was scoreless, Campbell broke to the front of the net and stood his ground. For his efforts, Campbell was rewarded with a cross-check to the back by Daniel Carcillo at 11:31.
Not only did Campbell feel the impact of Carcillo’s twig between the shoulders, he also fell facefirst into one of the Philadelphia defensemen. The fall opened a gash next to Campbell’s right eye that required stitches. After the game, the area around Campbell’s eye was raked and bloody.
Campbell welcomed the pain.
“Absolutely,’’ said Campbell when asked if he accepted the beating. “Yeah.’’
That’s because 31 seconds later, Campbell received the ultimate reward for his net-front punishment: his team scoring a goal. With Carcillo in the box, the Bruins executed some lightning-quick passing down low. David Krejci took a pass from Tomas Kaberle, pulled off the left wall, and found Nathan Horton to the side of the net.
Just as Horton received the puck, he whipped it to Milan Lucic in front. With Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen down and out, Lucic winged his first goal of the playoffs past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at 12:02 to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
“It was a big goal for us,’’ Campbell said. “It was the first goal. That’s been big all playoffs. For us, we had to play disciplined. They came out hard. They tried to make us take those penalties in retaliating. We wanted to walk away and suck it up. Then either play on the power play or five-on-five.’’
A Brad Marchand turnover led to Kris Versteeg’s tying goal at 13:22 of the second. But like they did the entire series, the Bruins never wobbled from one of the Flyers’ best punches. Instead, they came back firing.
“We had control of the game,’’ said Marchand. “That’s all a team needs, a little opportunity like that. They capitalize on it. They’re pretty good at that. But it was good that even after that, we were able to come through.’’
In the third, after the Bruins won an offensive-zone faceoff, Michael Ryder whacked the puck out to Johnny Boychuk at the right point. Before Flyers forward Scott Hartnell could close the gap and get in front of Boychuk’s shot, the defenseman wound up and ripped one of his signature slap shots. Bobrovsky could only wave at Boychuk’s blast, which was the winning goal at 2:42 of the third.
“That was a big goal,’’ said Julien. “That lifted the whole bench. Johnny’s got a good shot. We know the success he’s had in the American League in the past on the power play. For a good portion of the season here, he didn’t seem to find that range or even those opportunities to use his shot. That kind of took away some of his opportunities on the power play.’’
The Bruins throttled whatever life remained in Philly’s lungs late in the third. Horton took the puck off the boards and hit Lucic. The left wing wasted little time tucking his second goal of the night behind Bobrovsky at 15:03. Two empty-netters followed.
“We knew they were going to fight for their lives,’’ Lucic said. “They were going to throw the kitchen sink at us. They were going to press and press. We were just talking on the bench, saying, ‘Keep cool. Keep making plays. Just make good, hard, smart plays.’ ’’
Warmer weather may have arrived. But the Bruins sent a message with their sweep. It’s still winter.