Bruins eliminate Rangers to force conference final showdown with Pittsburgh
BOSTON — Back at the NHL trade deadline, the Bruins thought they had swung a deal with Calgary for future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. But Iginla, who had no-trade protection, said he wanted to go to Pittsburgh because he thought the Penguins had a better chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Now, Iginla and the Penguins will have to prove it against the Bruins.
The Bruins, looking for their second Stanley Cup in the last three years, finished off the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 3-1 victory Saturday night. They moved on to the conference finals against Iginla, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the top-seeded Pens.
"We've all watched Pittsburgh play," center Gregory Campbell said after scoring two goals in Saturday's clincher. "We've played against them enough and we have a lot of respect for that team, the way they're coached; and they have four really good lines and guys that contribute.
"They get scoring from every line and they're not too far removed from winning the Stanley Cup (2009). And they know how to win, so I think it will be a great matchup. We're excited about it, and we're going to have to be good."
The Penguins, called the "Miami Heat of the NHL" by Boston's Milan Lucic after the game, swept the three-game season series from the Bruins, but all three games were one-goal decisions.
You want more subplots? OK, Matt Cooke was the guy who started Marc Savard on his path to retirement with an elbow to the head in 2010. And Jaromir Jagr, also a future Hall of Famer, is playing for the Bruins now and faces the Penguins, a team he won two Stanley Cups with two decades ago.
Oh, and young Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski is from Pittsburgh.
"I guess I'll find out who my real friends are," he said.
On Saturday, rookie sensation Torey Krug and fourth-liner Campbell beat an again-heroic Henrik Lundqvist (29 saves, many of them tough) with second-period goals. Campbell added the empty-netter, as the Bruins dominated the second and third periods.
Krug's goal was his fourth in five games since being called up from Providence because of injuries. The Elias Sports Bureau reports he is the first defenseman in the post-expansion era to score four goals in his first five playoff games.
"It's a great feeling," Krug said. "I'm glad we closed it out tonight in front of a great crowd. It was so loud in there I could barely hear myself think sometimes. It was a great experience."
In the series, 11 of the Bruins' 16 goals were scored either by defensemen (seven) or by the fourth line.
Tuukka Rask, who yielded two poor goals (falling down on one) to help keep the Rangers alive in Game 4, made 27 saves but wasn't severely tested. He did stop a breakaway by Ryan Callahan in the third period, while raising his personal record in potential closeout games to 3-8.
"Tuukka made a big save at the right time, and that's what you want to have from a goaltender," captain Zdeno Chara said. "So there was a little breakdown, defensive breakdown, but Tuukka came up big for us."
Afterward, Rask's fall-down mistake in Game 4 became something to laugh about.
Defenseman Dan Girardi scored a power-play goal for the Rangers in the first period. Krug then answered with his third power-play goal, at 3:48 of the second. Campbell cashed in a rebound after a pair of giveaways by defenseman Roman Hamrlik led to the scoring rush.
The Rangers, seeded sixth in the conference (the Bruins were No. 4) before beating No. 3 Washington in seven games, played a strong first period -- probably their best period of the one-sided series.
But the Bruins, down three goals before rallying past Toronto in Game 7 of the first round, took over from there.
And when it ended, Lundqvist, on the bench after being pulled again, put his head down on his arms before going out for the handshake. He got a hug from Jagr, an ex-teammate, before the Bruins saluted their fans prior to leaving the ice.
"It's heartbreaking," said Rick Nash, who scored just one goal in 12 playoff games. "We have a good team, good season, and we just couldn't get the job done."
Added coach John Tortorella: "They deserved to win. They were the better team, and they deserved to win."
NOTES: This is just the Bruins' second trip to the conference finals since 1992, the other the 2011 Cup win. ... Boston's Shawn Thornton and New York's Derek Dorsett fought 6:49 into the game. ... The 1-0 New York lead after one period marked the first time in the series the teams weren't tied after one; the Rangers were 13-0-1 when leading after 20 minutes during the regular season. ... With defenseman Dennis Seidenberg back (his first game of the series), rookie Dougie Hamilton was a healthy scratch. Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were still out hurt. ... The Rangers were still missing defensemen Mark Staal and Anton Stralman. ... New York center Derek Stepan took a puck to the face on a shot by Michael Del Zotto but returned later in the first period. ... The Bruins called up goalie Niklas Svedberg from Providence after the AHL team, stripped of defensemen Krug and Bartkowski with a 3-0 lead in the second round of the playoffs, lost the next four and ended their season. His presence provides practice rest for Rask. ... Brothers J.P. and Paul Norden of Stoneham, Mass., both Boston Marathon bombing victims, were the pre-game honorary fan banner captains.