Bring on les Habi­tants

Bru­ins slap Wings aside to set up show­down with archri­val Mon­treal

SundayXtra - - NHLPLAYOFFREPORT - By Jimmy Golen

BOS­TON — The reg­u­lar sea­son wasn’t much of a strug­gle for the Bos­ton Bru­ins, and nei­ther was their first-round play­off se­ries against the Detroit Red Wings. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves Satur­day, and the de­fend­ing East­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons elim­i­nated the Red Wings with a 4-2 vic­tory in Game 5.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son with the best record in the NHL, the Bru­ins ad­vanced to the con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals against the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens.

“That se­ries was much tougher than maybe the re­sults showed,” said Bru­ins cap­tain Zdeno Chara, who gave Bos­ton the lead for good with four sec­onds left in the sec­ond pe­riod. “I think that we han­dled it well, we came into this se­ries ready and we got the job done.”

Loui Eriks­son opened the scor­ing for Bos­ton, and Chara’s goal on a 4-on-3 ad­van­tage snapped a 1-1 tie. Mi­lan Lucic also scored, and Jarome Iginla added an empty-net­ter.

Pavel Dat­syuk and Hen­rik Zet­ter­berg scored and Jonas Gus­tavs­son stopped 29 shots for Detroit. The Red Wings scored only six goals in the five-game se­ries.

“We’re not there yet,” said Red Wings coach Mike Bab­cock, whose team failed to win a play­off se­ries in two of the past three sea­sons. “The last two years, we bat­tled to get into the play­offs. To me, that’s a mea­sure of where we are. In­stead of bat­tling for the Cup, we’re bat­tling to make the play­offs.”

It was 1-1 when the Bru­ins gained a 4- on-3 power play thanks to a hold­ing penalty on Jo­han Franzen just 22 sec­onds be­fore Brendan Smith was called for cross-check­ing. On a face­off in the Detroit zone, Pa­trice Berg­eron lured two of the three Red Wings de­fend­ers to­ward the cor­ner and then passed it across the ice to Chara, who one­timed it past Gus­tavs­son.

Not usu­ally demon­stra­tive, Chara felt this one was worth cel­e­brat­ing.

“It was a big game and a big goal,” he said. “So I’m not afraid to show it.”

Lucic’s goal with 4:27 gone in the third made it a two-goal game. Detroit made it 3-2 with 3:52 left af­ter Rask made two ac­ro­batic saves but left the puck to the side of the net for Zet­ter­berg, the Red Wings cap­tain who missed two months with back surgery and did not re­turn un­til Game 4.

Less than a minute later, though the Wings were called for too many men on the ice, leav­ing them a man down while try­ing to fin­ish the come­back. With 2 min­utes left in the game, the Bos­ton fans be­gan chant­ing “We want the cup!” Next up: Mon­treal, which swept Tampa Bay. “Guys were never ever re­ally talk­ing about Mon­treal,” Iginla said. “We know they’ve won their se­ries and they’re go­ing to be next, but the only talk to­day was about think­ing about Detroit and get­ting this se­ries over.”

The Bru­ins won it all in 2011 and re­turned to the Stan­ley Cup fi­nals last year be­fore they were elim­i­nated when the Chicago Black­hawks scored two goals in 17 sec­onds in the fi­nal 76 sec­onds of Game 6. Bos­ton seems on its way for an­other long play­off run this year.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

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