Tuukka Rask goes low to make a first period save in Game 5 last Saturday night. Credit: Getty Images
It took five games in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals to truly look like themselves again but the Bruins’ wire-to-wire, 4-2 win over Montreal at TD Garden on Saturday put them one victory away from yet another Eastern Conference finals. Game 5 was the first contest that the B’s controlled from start to finish and it helped that they scored not only one, but their first two power-play goals of the series. The final score was somewhat misleading too, as P.K. Subban’s power-play goal came in garbage time.
Still, the saying that the toughest win to get in a series is the fourth one should be proven on Monday (7:30, NBCSN) at the Bell Centre. The Bruins know that they’ll have to play their best game against the Canadiens to send their rivals packing for the summer.
“I don’t think you can look at [Saturday] and say that all of a sudden we found our game,” cautioned Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I think we were better (than before) but there’s another game to win and I’m being honest here - we know it’s not going to be easy.”
For what it’s worth in a very small sample size, Boston is 1-0 in closeout games this postseason after beating Detroit 4-2 in Game 5 on April 26. Remember that was at the Garden and the Red Wings never came close to pushing the Bruins like the Canadiens have. Going into Sunday night, all four semifinal series around the NHL are headed to at least a sixth game and it’s always preferable to eliminate an opponent as early as you can.
Besides the power-play goals by Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla - which were scored 32 seconds apart in the second period - Game 4’s other underlying theme for the B’s was the continued excellence of their third line: Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Matt Fraser. They were all a game-high plus-2 while Soderberg earned the first star of the game and the Bruins old school jacket with a goal (the first of his NHL postseason career) and two assists. Eriksson had a goal and assist and Fraser added an assist.
The further that you advance in the NHL playoffs is usually the result of superior depth; that is one of the main reasons - besides Tim Thomas’ brilliance - that the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“It’s happened to us in the past. Any time that we’ve had more than just two lines that can be scoring threats it’s really helped,” noted Julien. “We know that (Gregory) Campbell’s line still gives us some great scoring chances.”
Boston still has a Game 7 on Wednesday at the Garden in its back pocket. For sure they would rather it not come down that 50/50 proposition.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate