PHILADELPHIA -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien knows how important David Krejci is to his team, and had no problem telling the media he was expecting more from his first-line center in Game 1 of his team's Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"I believe in David Krejci," Julien said Friday in Boston. "I think David Krejci is going to get better and I think his line's going to be better in this series."
Krejci made his coach look good Saturday, scoring twice, setting up two more goals and saving one as the Bruins beat the Flyers 7-3 on Saturday here at Wells Fargo Center.
Brad Marchand also scored twice and had an assist, Nathan Horton added a goal and an assist, and Mark Recchi and Gregory Campbell also scored. Goalie Tim Thomas stopped 31 of 34 shots.
Krejci's absence for the final four games of last year's conference semifinal between these teams is a major reason the Flyers were able to rally from a 3-0 series deficit. Krejci was knocked out of Game 3 with a dislocated wrist after a hard hit by Flyers captain Mike Richards.
"I try not to think about what happened last year but it's in the back of my head," Krejci said. "You don't forget these things that often but I try not to think about it almost at all. It's hard but I just try to stay focused for the game and my teammates helped me out today."
Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk and Richards had goals for the Flyers, who lost Game 1 for the second straight series despite having home-ice advantage.
Goaltender Brian Boucher, the first-round Game 7 hero for the Flyers, was pulled with 2:46 left in the second period after allowing five goals on 23 shots. He was replaced by rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed two goals on 10 shots.
Game 2 of the series will be Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN, RDS), with Games 3 and 4 in Boston on Wednesday and Friday.
Krejci had just 1 goal in the seven-game first-round series win against the Montreal Canadiens, but he needed only 1:52 against the Flyers to match that total. He stepped away from the Flyers' Matt Carle to intercept Horton's shot from the right point, walked through the slot and backhanded the puck under Boucher.
"For me I know I didn't prove that much but I still thought my line played pretty well (in the first round)," Krejci said. "We had so many chances, we just couldn't burry them and that sometimes happens. The season was a lot of up and down and it was a tough series for us, but I think we bounced back and we had a good game today. One game doesn't make a playoff, so we have to keep it going."
Julien said after the game he never lost faith in Krejci, but said he believed Krejci was trying to do too much.
"I think he's more of a quiet person," Julien said. "But you know once you've had him for a long time, you know his demeanor, you know how he operates. He's a very quiet kid but he's a very determined individual. There's times where he puts so much pressure on himself that it doesn't always help him. But once he finds his stride, he's a very determined player. Hopefully this game this afternoon has really helped him."
Horton said he knew it was just a matter of time before Krejci made an impact on the scoresheet.
"He is one of our best players, so they definitely key on him, and he wasn't on the scoresheet in the first round,” Horton said. “But I think he played all right, and tonight was a great way to start the second round."
Briere's League-high seventh goal of the postseason tied the game at 11:02. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Ville Leino took advantage of the open ice and skated the puck around the Boston zone. He dropped the puck at the blue line for Braydon Coburn, who fired a shot on net that Briere intercepted just before Thomas could snare it. He gathered it in and beat Thomas.
But the Bruins struck again in the final minute of the period. Dennis Seidenberg, who had a pair of assists, sent the puck from behind the Philadelphia net to Krejci in front. Boucher stopped his shot, but Horton batted the rebound off Boucher's arm and into the net for his fourth of the playoffs with just 35.7 seconds left.
Recchi made it 3-1 just 2:34 into the second. Boucher stopped Patrice Bergeron's shot from the right side, but Recchi pounced on the rebound and fired a low shot that went between Boucher's glove and body for his second of the postseason.
Krejci's second of the game came with 4:32 left in period. He beat the Flyers' Blair Betts on a faceoff to the left of the Philadelphia net, winning the puck back to Adam McQuaid at the right point. Krejci skated into the high slot and redirected McQuaid's shot past Boucher to make it 4-1.
Marchand's second goal of the postseason pushed Boston's lead to 5-1 less than two minutes later. Bergeron tipped Andrew Ference's shot from the left point into Boucher's pads, but Marchand lifted the rebound over Boucher and into the net at 17:14.
That brought an end to Boucher's afternoon, as Bobrovsky replaced him for his first action since being pulled from Game 2 of the first round. It also marked the third time in the last four games the Flyers have changed goalies mid-game.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was baffled as to how his team could follow one of its most impressive showings of the season, in Game 7 against Buffalo, with one of its worst in Game 1 against the Bruins.
"It wasn’t very good tonight, the defensive play," he said. "Especially right in front of our goaltender. Too many easy goals, too many easy plays. We weren't strong enough right in front of our goaltender.
"We come off one of our strongest performances in a while, come out and we don't have a good game. That was not the way we need to play in order to be successful, so there's lots of things that can change."
It's unclear if one of them would be the starting goaltender. The Flyers were able to get past Buffalo by starting Boucher, Bobrovsky and Michael Leighton. But Boucher said he hopes to be back in Game 2.
"It wasn't a good afternoon all around for all of us," he said. "We didn't get any breaks and we certainly didn't play all that well. At the same time, I don't see the need for a change but we'll see what happens."
The move to Bobrovsky sparked the Flyers momentarily, as van Riemsdyk scored his fifth of the playoffs just 16 seconds after the change. Claude Giroux won a faceoff in the Boston end, pushing the puck to Sean O'Donnell. The veteran blueliner quickly moved the puck to van Riemsdyk, who one-timed a shot over Thomas' glove at 17:30.
The Flyers nearly got another one when Kris Versteeg tipped the puck away from Krejci deep in the Boston end and deked around Thomas, but Krejci came back to deliver a check that knocked Versteeg off the puck before he could get off a shot.
"I don't know which one was bigger," Julien said of Krejci's big plays on offense and defense. "David Krejci was a really good player for us, there's no doubt there. He's capable of being that. He's ready to face this challenge."
The Flyers had a chance to get back into the game in the third. They had three power plays, including a 56-second 5-on-3 advantage, but all they had to show for it was Richards' first of the postseason. Seconds after the two-man advantage ended, Kimmo Timonen forced a turnover behind the Boston net. Richards pulled the puck off the wall deep in the right corner, skated out and fired a shot that beat Thomas over his left shoulder at 13:02.
That pulled the Flyers to within 5-3, but that was as close as they were able to get, as Marchand scored off a Carle turnover to make it 6-3, and Campbell beat O'Donnell to the left post to bang in a Krejci pass to close the scoring.
"They got a little life after that (Richards) goal, and there was still time for them to come back," Marchand said. "So for us to answer back and get a couple goals, take the wind out of their sails, was good."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com.