BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three seasons after they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 1-0 to complete a sweep of the Cup favorites in the Eastern Conference finals.
Tuukka Rask made 26 saves for his second shutout of the series and Adam McQuaid scored the lone goal at 5:01 of the third period to give the Bruins the win. Boston will now await the winner of the Chicago-Los Angeles Western Conference finals to see who they will play for the Cup.
“It’s very exciting. We all know that it’s not happening every year, and for teams to go into the Finals in whatever, two, three, five years, it takes a lot of hard work,” said captain Zdeno Chara, who made a game-saving save on Evgeni Malkin in the final minute. “I think we are happy with where we’re at right now, but in a few days we have to get ready for the final round.”
Rask stones Pens with another shutout -- The Penguins will be seeing Rask in their nightmares as he shut them out again and came up with more big saves, including a glove save at the end of regulation that put an exclamation point on what was one of the best performances by a goalie in a series that this scribe has seen. He is definitely in the Conn Smythe talk now and is in line for a hefty pay raise this summer.
“He saved us again, I mean especially at the end it seemed like there were 10 guys out there for our shift,” Dennis Seidenberg said. “They were throwing pucks everywhere and he seemed to just find the lane and find the puck and get his glove or a body part on it. Zee [Chara], I think, at the end I thought the puck was in, and Zee stretches his arm and somehow it hits his arm. We did have a little bit of luck, but again we played a good team defense and having Tuukka back there definitely helps.”
Chara pulls a Ryder -- As mentioned above, Chara made an incredible save in the final minute of regulation. With Rask sprawled out on the side of the net, Malkin picked up a rebound and tried to go around a sliding Chara, but the Bruins captain was able to swipe the puck away with his right hand and prevent what looked like a sure goal. This was very reminiscent of the save Michael Ryder made in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals that helped the Bruins win that series and is another example of how this team will do anything to win.
Crosby, Malkin, Iginla go home with goose eggs -- The Bruins held the best offense in the NHL to two goals in four games, and even more impressive, they held Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and Evgeni Malkin all pointless. Crosby, a Hart Trophy candidate and entering this series a Conn Smythe candidate, clearly was frustrated throughout the series, constantly complaining to the referees, taking bad penalties and having a meltdown of epic proportions in Game 1 that set the tone for the series and let the Bruins know they were under the collective skins of the Penguins.
“I think we played pretty good defensive hockey,” David Krejci said. “I think we played exactly what was our game plan, and nobody was cheating. We all played with responsibility and we all take pride in our game. We shut them down. It was a great effort by all four lines the whole series.”
Defense continues to produce points -- Claude Julien always preaches defense first and wants his team to convert defense into offense. That has certainly been the case in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs. With McQuaid's third-period goal, the Bruins' blue line has accounted for 35 of the team's 136 points in the postseason and 15 of its 50 goals. Johnny Boychuk leads all Bruins defensemen with five lamp lighters and Chara has the most points with 11.
“That’s what you need: contribution from different guys,” Chara said. “It’s not always going to be the same guys, even when we get a lot of offense from guys that we rely on. In some key situations of different games, we got contributions from guys that maybe are not well known for their offense.”
Bruins PK dominant -- The Bruins' penalty-kill unit always has been their bread and butter, but what they accomplished against the Penguins was simply remarkable. The Bruins killed off all 15 Penguins power plays, holding the NHL's best power play scoreless. Whatever happens for the rest of the playoffs, that is an accomplishment that must be remembered.
'Daug Man' replaces Campbell -- Kaspars Daugavins replaced the injured Gregory Campbell in the lineup and started the game skating with Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley. As a result, Chris Kelly was centering Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton.
“I think he played a pretty good game for a guy who has been out for probably somewhere around a month,” Julien said of Daugavins. “We know that the playoffs have a different intensity and everything else. For him just to step in there, when I say 'cold', four weeks without being in a game situation, he played a strong game.”
Here's what the lineup looked like:
Kaspars Daugavins-Rich Peverley-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Chris Kelly-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Adam McQuaid