No collapse for Bruins, sweep Flyers with 5-1 win

Posted May 06, 2011, at 11:14 p.m.
Last modified May 07, 2011, at 12 a.m.

BOSTON — Milan Lucic scored twice, Johnny Boychuk got the go-ahead goal, and the Boston Bruins stopped any chance of another historic comeback by the Philadelphia Flyers with a 5-1 win Friday night that completed a sweep of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

In this round last year against Philadelphia, the Bruins became just the third NHL team to lose a series after winning the first three games. Boston even held a 3-0 lead at home in Game 7 before the Flyers rallied again for a 4-3 victory.

“I think we learned a lot from last year, that experience, and I think it made us a more determined hockey club,” Lucic said. “We can definitely put everything behind us with what happened last year. So it’s a real good feeling.”

Kris Versteeg lifted Philadelphia into a 1-1 tie on Friday at 13:22 of the second period after Lucic scored at 12:02 of the first. Boychuk put Boston ahead at 2:42 of the third, Lucic connected again at 15:03, and Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille added empty-net goals.

The Bruins are in the conference finals for the first time since 1992 and will have home-ice advantage against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Philadelphia was swept 4-0 for the first time since losing to Detroit in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.

Boston has won seven of eight games and is aiming for its first Stanley Cup title since 1972. Tampa Bay won it all in 2004.

The Bruins began rolling after losing the first two games of their first-round series at home to Montreal. They won the next three games, lost Game 6, and advanced with an overtime win in Boston in Game 7.

Their offense took off against the Flyers. The Bruins won the opener in Philadelphia 7-3, then took the second game 3-2 in overtime before returning home for a 5-1 win on Wednesday night.

“I really look at Game 1 as an opportunity that was lost for us to get into the series,” Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said.

Now, with Vezina Trophy finalist Tim Thomas performing brilliantly, the Bruins have reached the round that eluded them last year. But nine of the 20 players who suited up for them on Friday, including Thomas, didn’t play in the four losses to Philadelphia a year ago.

Boychuk’s game-winner was his second goal of the playoffs. The defenseman got the puck after a faceoff in the left circle and quickly fired a hard shot to the near side that Sergei Bobrovsky couldn’t grab with his glove.

Bobrovsky, who started Game 1 of the series, got the start again with the season on the line. He replaced Brian Boucher, who had been ineffective in the other losses.

The Bruins had taken their 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Lucic, who led them with 30 goals in the regular season. David Krejci sent a pass from the left circle to Nathan Horton at the left corner of the crease. Horton quickly fed Lucic on the other edge of the crease for an easy goal, his first of the playoffs, into the open side of the net.

It was Boston’s second goal in three power plays after going scoreless on its first 31 in the postseason.

The Flyers tied it when Versteeg went in alone and beat Thomas after Mike Richards stole a pass by Marchand.

Boston had been the aggressor with an 18-9 advantage in shots midway through the second period. But Versteeg’s goal seemed to energize Philadelphia, although the Flyers had a tough time capitalizing after committing two penalties in the last 3:05 of the period.

The Bruins were putting pressure on the Flyers when Marchand tried to pass across the ice from near the right point. Instead, he put the puck right on Richards’ stick. Richards skated slightly ahead of Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg before giving the puck to Versteeg, who scored his first of the playoffs.

Notes: Philadelphia was without D Chris Pronger for the third straight game with a hand injury. … Boston D Adam McQuaid missed his second consecutive game with a sprained neck after crashing into the boards headfirst in Game 2. … The Flyers lost last year’s Stanley Cup finals in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Red Wings 4, Sharks 3

DETROIT — Darren Helm scored with 1:27 left in the third period, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to an elimination-avoiding 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal series on Friday night.

The Sharks will take their 3-1 series lead back home with a chance to advance on Sunday night to the NHL’s final four.

Detroit is trying to become the fourth NHL team to win a series after trailing 3-0.

Veteran defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom scored twice in the first period to help the Red Wings take a three-goal lead that they let slip away.

Logan Couture had a goal 15 seconds after Lidstrom’s second, Dan Boyle scored midway through the middle period to pull San Jose within 3-2, and Dany Heatley tied it early in the third.

Helm put Detroit back ahead for good, scoring from the left circle off a cross-ice pass from Patrick Eaves, who got the puck off a long rebound following Brian Rafalski’s shot.

Former UMaine star Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for the win. San Jose’s Antti Niemi stopped 26 shots.

The second-round rematch has mirrored last year’s matchup between the teams. San Jose won the first three games by a goal each time, but couldn’t complete the sweep.

Todd Bertuzzi scored first this time 6:22 in, just as he did last year in Game 4, when he gave Detroit a 1-0 lead at 5:40.

The Red Wings went on to win that game 7-1 before getting eliminated in Game 5.

Detroit appeared to be on the way to another blowout win after Lidstrom scored twice in the first period to make it 3-0, but San Jose refused to get routed.

Couture quieted Joe Louis Arena at 18:16 of the first, and Boyle silenced the fired-up fans when he made it 2-1 at 13:44 of the second.

Detroit had chances to add to its lead in the second, but went 0 for 3 on the power play in the period.

San Jose didn’t have a power play in the first two periods.

The Sharks got their chance 4:12 into the third, shortly after tying the game, but they didn’t take advantage. San Jose had another power play with 8:25 left and failed to score.

Bertuzzi started the scoring with a spectacular play, making a 360-degree spin with the puck and beating Niemi with a backhander from the right circle.

From the other circle, Lidstrom’s slap shot off a long rebound made it 2-0 midway through the first period. Lidstrom got control of a pass with his left skate, whacked the puck out of the air, and bounced it past Niemi.

The cheers turned to groans seconds later when Helm had a giveaway, and Howard gave up what seemed like a soft goal to Couture.

Howard went low and Boyle shot high after a cross-ice pass caught back-checking forward Jiri Hudler out of position to make it 3-2 midway through the second period.

The Red Wings were scrambling to keep up with San Jose on the tying goal, as well, leaving Heatley alone in front for a shot that Howard couldn’t stop.

Detroit, though, made the big play in the heart-pounding final minutes to avoid elimination.

NOTES: Lidstrom’s first goal gave him 181 career playoff points, breaking a second-place tie with Ray Bourque for scoring by a defenseman, and broke an 11th-place tie overall with Jaromir Jagr. … The 2010 Flyers, 1942 Maple Leafs and 1975 Islanders are the only NHL teams to overcome 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven playoff series. … Detroit stuck to its Game 3 lineup, making veteran forward Mike Modano a healthy scratch again.

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