By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
For the second year in a row, the Bruins find themselves up 3-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Unlike last year, the Bruins looked to rewrite history and not lose control of this series. In series, when the Bruins are up 3-0, they are 16-1. Unfortunately, we know what that one loss is from. In-Game Three, the Bruins were finally able to score on the powerplay, bringing their grand total to 1-31. If the Bruins won tonight, they would face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals.
Tampa swept the Washington Capitals last round. Boston would be without Tyler Seguin, while Philadelphia was without Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo. Tim Thomas would look to continue his dominant performance as he got the start for Game four, while Philadelphia Coach Peter Laviolette would start Sergei Bobrovsky instead of Brian Boucher. Boucher has had a horrible series, featuring lots of goals allowed, getting pulled twice, and injuring his hand. Here we go folks, Boston has a chance to rewrite history.
Boston Gets on the Board first
Game four was underway, and Philadelphia looked to get on the board. Thomas stopped early shots from Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen. 3:10 into the game, Shane Hnidy was whistled for slashing, and Philly had the first powerplay of the game and looked to take an early 1-0 lead. Boston killed off the penalty and shortly after had a powerplay chance of their own. Boston couldn’t get anything going, and it was back to even strength. Seconds before the halfway mark of the period, it would be 4-on-4 for two minutes. Marchand was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and Kris Versteeg was called for interference.
Three seconds after 4-on-4 hockey, Boston already had their second powerplay of the night. 31 seconds into the powerplay, Milan Lucic scored and prevailed Boston to a 1-0. Not only was it Boston’s second powerplay goal of the playoffs, but it was Milan Lucic’s first goal of the playoffs. A surprise to many since Lucic was able to score 30 goals in the regular season. Tomas Kaberle sent the puck down the left wall where David Krejci fielded it and moved the puck to Nathan Horton in the left circle. Horton kept the cycle going to Lucic, who popped in a shot from about 5 feet.
Three minutes later, Boston looked to take a 2-0 lead. Giroux was called for tripping, and Boston was on the powerplay again. Boston couldn’t make it 2-0, and the period went on. As the period winded down to its final seconds, Scott Hartnell jabbed the butt end of his stick into Chara’s gut in front of Thomas, and the big defenseman responded with a cross-check. Hartnell took a swing, Chara came back with one, but officials jumped in before something dangerous got going. Hartnell gets a penalty for roughing, and Chara got a double minor for roughing, so Flyers are on the power play. The last eight seconds went by, and after one, Boston was up 1-0. They were also leading the shot total 13-6.
Flyers tie it in the 2nd Period
The second period started, and Philadelphia had 1:53 remaining on their powerplay. Philly couldn’t score, and it was still 1-0 Boston. 11:39 into the second period, it would be 4-on-4 for the second time this game. Hartnell slammed David Krejci alongside the Bruins bench, and Lucic jumped up to push him away. Both were heading to the box. Coming off the 4-on-4, Philadelphia appeared to have momentum on their side. In fact, with 6:34 remaining the second, Philadelphia tied the game. Kris Versteeg would get his first goal of the playoffs on a breakaway, sprung by a Mike Richards’ lead pass after the Flyer captain picked off a Brad Marchand pass in the Bruins zone. Versteeg, cruising in alone, pulled the puck left onto his backhand and tucked it behind Thomas.
30 seconds after the Flyer’s goal, Philadelphia had a chance to take a 2-1 lead. Horton was called for holding, and Philly was on the powerplay. Boston killed off the penalty, and it was still a 1-1 game. As the second period was coming to a close, Danny Briere was called for holding with 24 seconds left. The 24 seconds of the powerplay went by, and the second period ended. Boston would have 1:36 on the powerplay to start the third period.
Boston Advances to the Next Round
The last 20 minutes of regulation were underway. Would Boston close out the series? Or would Philadelphia start to mount a comeback in the series? Boston’s powerplay consisted of no shots and lots of passing, and it was back to even strength. 2:38 into the period, Bergeron was hit by Claude Giroux, and Bergeron was sent down the tunnel. Not a pleasant sight if you’re a Bruins fan. Seconds after Bergeron went down the tunnel, Johnny Boychuk ripped a “Johnny Rocket” past Bobrovsky, and Boston had a 2-1 lead. Boychuk was pumping his fist, and the Garden was ecstatic.
Throughout the period, the Bruins were forced to shake up their lines after Bergeron was sent to the locker room. Despite the shakeup, Boston was doing a terrific job shutting down any chances Philly got, and with five minutes left in the game, Lucic made it 3-1 Boston. Nathan Horton picked the puck off the sidewall in the neutral zone and shoveled a backhand pass to Lucic, who charged the net, and with no defenders in sight, Lucic sent his second goal of the game past Bobrovsky.
NESN announcer Jack Edwards was ecstatic, saying, “Summahtime is coming to Philadelphia!” With under two minutes remaining in the game, Philly pulled Bobrovsky for the extra man. The extra man didn’t do anything for Philadelphia, and Brad Marchand sealed the game with the empty-netter. Despite being down by three, Philadelphia pulled Bobrovsky again for the extra man. With 25 seconds left in regulation, Gregory Campbell made it 5-1, and Boston was moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals.
First time in the Conference Finals since 1992
For the first time in 19 years, Boston was heading to the Eastern Conference finals. A joyous moment for all of Boston as the weight had been lifted off their shoulders. Both teams lined up for handshakes, and Philadelphia was sent home for the playoffs. All eyes were now shifted on Tampa Bay, who was awaiting Boston. Boston would have the home-ice advantage since they were the three seed, and Tampa was the five seed. Tampa was not a team to overlook, though. They beat Pittsburgh in seven games the first round and then beat the Capitals in four games the next round. A team that was predicted to miss the playoffs at the start of the season was now in the Eastern Conference finals. A scary sneaky team that was here to pay dividends. Game one of Boston vs. Tampa wouldn’t happen until May 14th, so both teams had a week to rest and get ready.