WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Boston Bruins saw plenty of improvement in the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. Now the Bruins want to wrap up the series rather than give the Flyers another chance to get better.
Philadelphia stayed alive Friday night when Simon Gagne scored in overtime for a 5-4 win that cut Boston’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-1. The Bruins next play Monday night at home where they’re 5-0 in the playoffs.
“We need to close it out, obviously,” said centre Patrice Bergeron, among a handful who of players who reported for medical treatment on the club’s day off Saturday. “We can’t give them life because they’re a great team. They’re a team that obviously is never going to stop battling. We know that. We just have to do it at home on Monday.”
The Flyers executed as they planned?getting bodies in front of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. Gagne returned after missing the first three games with an injured toe, giving the Flyers three solid offensive lines.
While they’re still in a deep hole, the Flyers hope Friday’s win marks the start a resurgence.
“I think it kind of gives us confidence, just that we can win again,” Flyers captain Mike Richards said. “You go through a little bit of a drill like that with some bad luck and you kind of start doubting yourself, and it’s nice to get the win just to prove a point that you can win again.”
Two of Philadelphia’s goals were a direct result of Rask being screened or the puck getting tipped. Chris Pronger’s go-ahead goal in the first period on a one-timer from the blue-line flew past numerous bodies. Ville Leino put the Flyers ahead 4-3 in the third with a tip of a wrist shot by Pronger.
“I think all series they’ve been trying to do a good job of driving to the net and creating traffic,” Boston wing Shawn Thornton said. “Tuukka’s an unbelievable goaltender and he doesn’t get beat too often from the standard shot, so you have to do that to a guy like that. I expect a lot of the same” on Monday.
Boston must do a better job of clearing Flyers forwards out of Rask’s way and getting their sticks off the ice where they have a better chance of redirecting shots
“They had more traffic, too. They were really buzzing,” Bergeron said. “I guess that’s probably the game plan against Tooks. So we need to make sure we box out and we do a good job against that, and really block shots from the point.”
Gagne, playing for the first time since April 20, made his presence felt with a goal, seven shots on net and even two faceoff wins. With him, the Flyers are more balanced and dynamic on offence.
“Too bad we didn’t do that in the start of our series,” forward Claude Giroux said. “(Daniel) Briere and Richards were probably the only two that were doing good offensively. It’s good to see that guys are stepping up, and to add a guy like Gagne, it’s a pretty good feeling.”
The Bruins can’t pay too much attention to Gagne, just as they rarely concentrate on one opposing player.
“We’ll focus the same way,” Thornton said. “I think being back at home, hopefully the energy of the crowd will help. We did a pretty good job all playoffs of staying even keel every game and focusing the same way. We have to continue to do that.”
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette insists the buzz from the fans goes only so far.
“I understand there’s a good crowd there,” he said, “but after the first few shifts, it turns into just about hockey and the players on the ice and what they do out there. If we go out and play a good hockey game, and we can get a lead and play our style, then maybe the crowd is less of a factor.”
The Flyers lost the first two games in Boston, 5-4 in overtime and 3-2 on a tie-breaking goal with 2:57 remaining
“I like the way that we played our first two games there. I just don’t like the results,” Laviolette said. “They could have gone either way.”