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Sweep revenge: Bruins finish off Flyers, reach East finals

May 7, 2011 - 4:42 AM
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - It was infamously delayed by a year, but the Boston Bruins are heading back to the conference finals for the first time since 1992.

Shaking off any suggestion of another collapse, Milan Lucic scored twice as the Bruins finished off a sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers with a 5-1 decision in Game 4 of this Eastern Conference semifinal series from TD Garden.

"(It) feels good. It's been kind of frustrating, the last twenty games, not being able to put the puck in the back of the net," Lucic said of his scoring slump, which lasted from March 22 until Friday. "But tonight I was able to get open, and when I got those opportunities, both great plays to set me up, and when I got the opportunities it was nice to step up and score big goals."

Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille also tallied for the Bruins, who advanced nearly one year removed from making history by becoming just the third NHL team to waste a 3-0 series edge by losing in seven games to the Flyers.

Tim Thomas, who in 2010 was hampered by a hip injury that put Tuukka Rask in net, improved to 8-3 in these playoffs with a 22-save performance.

"Well I think they deserve it. Obviously it's a huge motivation for them. It's a big motivation for us," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara of the Boston fans showing their enthusiasm for the current run. "We know how they can get excited and they were obviously showing it throughout the whole first and second round. And I'm sure it's going to be even more now."

Boston will take on upstart Tampa Bay with a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals on the line. The Lightning also gained the third round thanks to a sweep, knocking off the top-seeded Capitals earlier this week.

Kris Versteeg posted the lone goal for the Flyers, who had not been swept in a best-of-seven set since losing the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals to Detroit.

Sergei Bobrovsky, who got his first starting assignment since Game 2 of the first round against Buffalo, allowed three goals on 25 shots in the season- ending setback.

"I don't really know if there is a such thing as that. I mean, obviously, you want to play as well as you can no matter what any time of the year," said Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk of his club's struggles after spending the middle portion of the regular season competing for the best record in the league. "I don't really know what happened, to be honest with you, this year. I don't really know."

The Bruins went ahead for good on a score early in the third period. A left- circle faceoff win resulted in Michael Ryder pushing the puck back to Boychuk at the right point for a top-shelf blast to give the Bruins a 2-1 edge with 2:42 played.

It was a two-goal edge for the home team as the clock ticked inside five minutes to play, when a Flyers giveaway in the neutral zone worked its way to Lucic, who cruised in alone and scored through Bobrovsky's pads.

Marchand and Paille scored into the empty net in the last two minutes to provide the final margin.

"We really didn't want to go back to Philly," Marchand admitted. "If they were to steal tonight, we got back to Philly and anything can happen. It is not a place we want to go. It was nice in front of our home crowd and they were right with us."

Boston broke through on a power play with 7:58 left in the opening period, when David Krejci found Nathan Horton, who slipped a pass from the left side to the right post for a one-timer by Lucic.

The Flyers equalized during a 4-on-4 with 6:38 to go in the second period. Mike Richards outraced Marchand to a loose puck at center ice, then fed ahead for Versteeg, who moved to the far post and beat Thomas on the backhand.

"I'm not going to say the better team won, but the team that was playing better is moving on," said Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell. "They are hitting on all cylinders right now. We put a good effort tonight it just seems we weren't hitting on all cylinders."

Game Notes

The Bruins outscored the Flyers 20-7 over the four games...Boston, which notched its first four-game playoff sweep since dispatching Montreal in the 1992 Adams Division finals, also swept Philly in the 1977 Stanley Cup semifinals...Krejci completed the series with nine points (4G, 5A)...Horton notched a pair of assists for the victors...Boston made what was then the Wales Conference Finals three years in a row (1990-92), beating Washington then losing twice to eventual champions Pittsburgh...Philly defenseman Chris Pronger missed his third straight game with an undisclosed injury...On May 6, 1976, Reggie Leach scored five goals in a 6-3 Flyers victory over the Bruins in Game 5 of the semifinals.