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BOSTON -- When the Detroit Red Wings won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round 1-0 against the Boston Bruins last week, it appeared the 24-point difference between the teams in the Atlantic Division standings was inconsequential.
Over the final four games of the series, the Bruins looked every bit the part of Presidents' Trophy winners against the conference's second wild card.
The Bruins won their fourth straight game and clinched the series in Game 5 on Saturday, when four players scored a goal and Torey Krug assisted on two in a 4-2 victory at TD Garden.
Boston advances to play the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round. The Canadiens swept the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins and Canadiens will meet in the postseason for the 34th time. Montreal won three of four games this season and 24 of the previous series.
"Fourth time now since 2008 that we faced them here in the playoffs; first time that it isn't a first-round matchup," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "So another Original Six battle that we get to be a part of, and a lot of hatred between the teams, the fans, the cities when it comes to this kind of rivalry. So we expect them to bring their best. We saw what they were able to do in the first series [against the Lightning], and like I said we've got to be prepared to come out and elevate our game as the playoffs move on."
In this series, the Bruins avoided the mistakes they made last season, when they allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to overcome a 3-1 deficit and push Boston to seven games.
"Well it was real important, obviously Game 5's are always huge, and we wanted to come out and establish a lead and start playing our game," said Lucic, who scored the game-winning goal Saturday. "And we were able to get that first goal; that was big for us. And obviously you lose this game and the other team is able to create some momentum heading back to their own building and we didn't want that to happen. We stepped up and made the most of our opportunity in Game 4 and we said the same thing here today. It was an opportunity for us to look forward to and finish off the series. It's a great feeling that we were able to do that."
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 31 saves on 33 shots, and the Bruins advanced beyond the first round for the fifth time in seven seasons under coach Claude Julien. Defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Loui Eriksson each scored a power-play goal, and forward Jarome Iginla scored an empty-net goal for Boston.
The Bruins outscored the Red Wings, 14-6, in the series.
"Well that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed," Chara said. "Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn't a one-sided series. It was much closer, like I said, than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done."
Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who made a second straight start in place of Jimmy Howard (illness), stopped 29 of 32 shots. The Red Wings lost in the first round for the second time in three seasons; they were eliminated by the Nashville Predators in 2012.
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who missed the first three games of the series while recovering from back surgery, said he thought the Bruins' biggest advantage was their lengthy history together as a team.
"I think experience and patience," Zetterberg said. "They really stick to their structure, they have been doing that for two to three years now and they know it works. We haven't really gone through that with this group. We get away from playing playoff hockey and we play against a team like Boston and they take advantage of that. I think if we look at them, they roll four lines, they do the same things, they get the puck out, they get the puck in. When the other team gives them an opportunity, they take advantage. It is impressive, they are a good team, but they know how to win, they have been there. I think we have to realize how to play in the postseason, and if we do that and we really believe in what we do, we would have gone longer."
It didn't take the Bruins long to score Saturday. During a power play, defenseman Dougie Hamilton gained the offensive zone by splitting two Red Wings then stopped at the bottom of the right circle. Hamilton's pass toward the middle was deflected a couple of times before it landed on Eriksson's stick for a backhand goal from the left side of the slot at 3:27.
Eriksson, who was with the Dallas Stars prior to this season, hadn't scored a playoff goal since May 14, 2008.
The Bruins held an 11-8 shots advantage and a 1-0 lead after the first period, when they also killed two minor penalties.
Special teams dominated the second period with each team scoring on the power play. The Red Wings scored their second power-play goal of the series at 14:41 to make it 1-1. Zetterberg's one-timer from the blue line caught Rask up high and the rebound went right to Pavel Datsyuk, who shot it into the net.
A run of minor penalties started at 16:48, three against Detroit and one against Boston. The Bruins took a 2-1 lead on a 4-on-3 goal by Chara at 19:56. After Krug landed a shot on Gustavsson, he tracked the rebound then lost the puck to teammate Patrice Bergeron. The Boston center fired a pass across the ice for a one-timer by Chara from the top of the right circle that beat Gustavsson high.
"Of course it's a tough one at the time, but at the same time it's a one-goal game," Detroit defenseman Nicklas Kronwall said. "It's one shot. We felt that we were still with it, that we still had a chance."
Lucic extended the lead to 3-1 with a little help from Krug. The Boston defenseman picked off Johan Franzen's clearing attempt then set up Lucic for a goal in front at 8:27 of the third period.
Zetterberg cut the lead to 3-2 with his first goal of the series. Rask flashed the pad to stop Justin Abdelkader's redirect, but Zetterberg was there to clean up the rebound at 16:08.
Iginla scored into an empty net with 16 seconds to go.
|PPG - Loui Eriksson (1) Backhand shot - ASST: Dougie Hamilton (3), Tuukka Rask (1)|
1 - 0 BOS
|PPG - Pavel Datsyuk (3) Snap shot - ASST: Johan Franzen (2), Henrik Zetterberg (1)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Zdeno Chara (2) Snap shot - ASST: Patrice Bergeron (4), Torey Krug (3)|
2 - 1 BOS
|Milan Lucic (3) Wrist shot - ASST: Torey Krug (4)|
3 - 1 BOS
|Henrik Zetterberg (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Justin Abdelkader (2), Pavel Datsyuk (2)|
3 - 2 BOS
|EN - Jarome Iginla (2) Wrist shot - ASST: Milan Lucic (1), David Krejci (2)|
4 - 2 BOS
|Justin Abdelkader Hooking against Milan Lucic|
|Shawn Thornton Hi-sticking against Brian Lashoff|
|David Krejci Tripping against Brendan Smith|
|Milan Lucic Hi-sticking against Brendan Smith|
|Danny DeKeyser Holding against Jarome Iginla|
|Loui Eriksson Interference on goalkeeper against Jonas Gustavsson|
|Johan Franzen Holding against Johnny Boychuk|
|Brendan Smith Cross checking against Jarome Iginla|
|Brad Marchand Roughing against Niklas Kronwall|
|Daniel Alfredsson Tripping against David Krejci|
|Patrice Bergeron Hooking against Niklas Kronwall|
|Brad Marchand Roughing against Henrik Zetterberg|
|Tomas Tatar Too many men/ice - bench|