BostonBruins.com - Zdeno Chara stopped before he answered the first question.
Before delving into a postgame breakdown of the Bruins' series-clinching victory on Wednesday night, the B's captain took a moment to heap some praise on the Carolina Hurricanes.
"They are such a good hockey club," said Chara. "Well coached. They have, obviously, a very dangerous lineup. It was not easy to beat them. They are a very dangerous team. Just want to congratulate them on going to the playoffs and playing really hard. They're very well coached and they work extremely hard."
It was a heartfelt acknowledgement of the 'Canes, a team that has clearly grown since last spring when Boston dispatched them with a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference Final. But despite Carolina's step forward during the regular season, the Bruins depth and experience clearly remained too much for the young Hurricanes to handle.
Down by one late in the second period, the Bruins struck for two power-play goals - from David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron - just 4:36 part and held on for a 2-1 victory to close out their first-round series with the Hurricanes in five games.
"I think we're well aware that this is the hardest game to get," said Bergeron. "We know that the opposing teams are going to throw everything at us and try to stay in the series. We've been there before in both situations and we know that those are the toughest and you need to make sure you take care of business and not let this drag. Obviously, it's easier said than done.
"I thought we weathered the storm, if you will, early in the game…special teams helped us, Jaro [Halak] made some huge saves and we got the job done. All in all, that's all the really matters. You find a way."
Boston has now found a way into the second round for the third straight year and eighth time in their last 10 postseason appearances. With their next opponent still to be determined, the Bruins are likely to have at least several days off before they open up the next series.
"All we have to do is enjoy tonight, have a day off [on Thursday] and start preparing for whatever is next," said Krejci. "This is kind of a unique situation, the bubble. We obviously wanted to finish it off today, though. Those are the hardest ones to get. We knew we didn't want to come back here [Thursday] and play back-to-back…we'll take the win and happy that we don't have to come back."
Video: Pastrnak and Chara talk to media after Game 5 win
After the B's series-clinching win, David Pastrnak said exactly what every Bruins fans have been thinking for about a decade: "We all love Playoff Krech. He's unbelievable."
Krejci has twice led the NHL in playoff scoring - both in 2011 and 2013 - and has been a driving force for the Bruins so far this postseason. The 34-year-old is pacing Boston with nine points and three goals through eight games (including the three round-robin contests), rejuvenating the B's second line in the process.
"I've learned that he's a big-time player," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "I've seen it in the playoffs now every year I've been here. Don't overanalyze maybe some regular-season games at times if he's not put in key situations…he's a real competitor, good team guy, well liked in the room, quiet, I think a good hockey mind. You can always talk to him about the game and get good responses and good dialogue and a guy that loves the game.
"He just doesn't show it, maybe, like some other people would because he is kind of more of a composed guy that way, but certainly one of the more fierce competitors in terms of inner drive that I've been around here."
Krejci was at it again in Game 5, sparking the Bruins with a power-play tally from the doorstep to tie the game at 1 with 4:40 remaining in the second period. Just under five minutes later, he assisted on Bergeron's power-play marker with four seconds to go in the middle frame.
"So much experience and his hockey patience is incredible," said Pastrnak. "The power play is just - I can't even tell how good of a player he is. He always seems like he makes a great play. Just when you think he's going to lose it, he always finds a way to recover and make a great play. Great power play…we scored some big goals and obviously Krech was a big key on the power play."
Even with Pastrnak back in the lineup, Krejci remained on the B's first power-play unit, where he succeeded during the winger's three-game absence. It was a move that clearly paid dividends, as Boston's top PP - which featured Krejci, Pastrnak, Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Torey Krug - notched both of the team's goals.
"He's playing really well, really motivated, making good plays," said Cassidy. "I think having discussions with him and Marchy, about Krech [liking] that elbow where Pasta is, so you've got to put him on the other one; it's a different look for him. And then March moves off his elbow into the net front where you're going to take a little more of a pounding, so they had to be willing to do that.
"We had a pretty good power play as it is the other way, but this is a way to get Krech more involved. And then with Pasta not having a lot of reps, I think you saw the puck move around to the other side a little bit more because those guys are more into the game flow of things. So that was the other reason…those guys were all amenable to being in one group and it worked out for us."
Video: CAR@BOS, Gm5: Krejci's PPG puts Bruins on the board
Bergy to the Bank
Boston's second power-play marker of the night came with just 4 seconds remaining in the second period when Bergeron, knowing that time was winding down, whipped one toward goal from the corner. It was a wise move as the puck caromed off of Carolina goalie Petr Mrazek and into the net for what proved to be the series-clinching tally.
"I saw that he was kind of - he stood up. He was standing up," said Bergeron. "I was just trying to catch him - throw it at his feet and see what happens. I knew that there wasn't that much time left in the period. So, I said, 'Why not try it?'…I knew we couldn't really set it up and have another shot, so I was just trying to put it on net and catch him standing up."
The Bruins' power play went 2 for 3 on the night and is now 5 for 14 since Game 2. Boston had started out the postseason, including the round-robin, 0 for 13 on the man advantage.
"I thought it was really good for us tonight," said Bergeron. "Earlier in the series, obviously not the way that we wanted it. I thought we got better as the series went on. Tonight…having the two goals but also, we could have had a couple more. When you don't, you still create some momentum for your team and energy. And that's what you want from your special teams on both side, power play and penalty kill. I thought we saw that today."
Video: CAR@BOS, Gm5: Bergeron nets PPG from tough angle
Back on the Menu
After missing three straight games with an undisclosed injury, Pastrnak returned and provided a much-need boost up front. The winger assisted on both of the Bruins' goals and landed five shots on goal in 20:34 of ice time, which was second only to Marchand's 21:04.
"Definitely, obviously, felt better every shift," said Pastrnak. "It was good to be back with the guys. Anytime you're watching the games from the stands, it's tough. Really happy I was back and a great series."
Video: Cassidy addresses media after playoff series win