Top 5 Bruins moments of 2013

Despite a 48-game, lockout-shortened season, the Boston Bruins accomplished quite a bit during 2013.

The labor dispute between the NHL and the players’ association ended in January and games began on Jan. 19. It didn’t take long to notice, especially in a short season, that the Bruins could make a serious run at a second Stanley Cup championship in a three-year span.

Boston reached the Cup finals but lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. The Bruins produced some memorable moments during the regular season, playoffs and even during the summer when offseason trades and free-agent signings made for a busy few days in the first week of July.

The 2013 season didn’t end exactly the way the Bruins were hoping it would, but there were plenty of storylines that kept interest in the team high.

Here are my picks for the top moments of 2013:

5. April 17: Bruins lose emotional return

After the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, the Bruins’ game against the Ottawa Senators that night was postponed. The Bruins returned to the ice two nights later as Boston’s first pro sporting event since the tragic events. It was an emotional night on many levels that ended with the Buffalo Sabres posting a 3-2 shootout win. Things began with an amazing pregame ceremony, honoring victims, heroes and first responders. An image of a blue and yellow “Boston Strong” ribbon appeared on the ice as Garden legend Rene Rancourt began to sing the national anthem. He stopped and allowed the 17,565 in attendance to finish the emotional rendition. During the game, fans chanted “We are Boston” and “USA.” The game’s No. 1 star was given to the city of Boston, and every player from each team stood at center ice and acknowledged the fans.

4. June 7: Bruins complete stunning sweep

The Bruins entered the Eastern Conference finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a boatload of motivation. First, Boston knew it needed only four wins to earn another trip to the Stanley Cup finals. Second, the Bruins wanted to prove to Jarome Iginla that he made the wrong decision when he chose to waive his no-trade clause for a swap to the Penguins instead of accepting a deal to Boston. The Bruins won both Games 1 and 2 at Pittsburgh to gain a 2-0 series lead. After a 2-1 overtime win in Game 3, Boston completed the sweep with a 1-0 victory in Game 4 at TD Garden. The Bruins dominated the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who were both held scoreless in the series.

3. June 24: Chicago beats Boston for the Cup on Garden ice

Plagued by injuries, the Bruins watched as the visiting Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup after a 3-2 win in Game 6 of the finals at TD Garden. Chicago scored twice in 17 seconds over the final 1:16 to overcome a 2-1 deficit. After the game, the Bruins announced that assistant captain Patrice Bergeron was playing with a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, a separated shoulder and a collapsed lung. Bergeron’s heroics added to his already legendary status in Boston’s sports lore, but the Bruins failed to reach their ultimate goal of winning another title. It became evident, however, that this Bruins team is built to win championships and Boston’s second trip to the finals in a three-year span solidified that notion. It still wasn’t easy for the Bruins and their fans to watch another Original Six team hoist the Cup in Boston. Overall, it was an exciting series with three overtime games, including a Chicago 4-3 win in triple OT in Game 1 at United Center in Chicago.

2. July 4: Bruins trade Seguin

The trade was described as a blockbuster when Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli pulled off a seven-player deal that sent forward Tyler Seguin, along with veteran forward Rich Peverley, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for forward Loui Eriksson and prospects Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow. The Bruins had lost interest in Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in 2010, and felt this deal would help Boston in both the short and long terms. Boston was not satisfied with Seguin’s development both on and off the ice, and felt the addition of Eriksson, a solid two-way player, would help the Bruins’ chances. This was a solid transaction for the Bruins and it didn’t take long to see the dividends pay off.

1. May 13: Bruins produce historic comeback

The Bruins mounted one of the greatest comebacks in Stanley Cup playoff history when they erased a three-goal deficit in the third period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Part of that comeback included a pair of goals in a span of 31 seconds as goaltender Tuukka Rask was on the bench for the final two minutes of regulation as Boston had the extra attacker and tied the game at 4-4. Bergeron’s overtime goal gave Boston a 5-4 win to advance to the conference semifinals against the New York Rangers. The victory over the Maple Leafs set the tone for the remainder of the playoffs as the Bruins reached the finals for the second time in a three-year span, before losing to the Blackhawks in six games. If Boston had lost the Toronto series, there probably would have been major changes to the organization.