BOSTON – Milan Lucic waited at the faceoff circle, his back to the goal, for a deflected puck to land. When it hit the ice, the Boston Bruins forward tapped it with his stick to settle it and then, in one motion, turned and shot.
Lucic’s turnaround slap shot broke a third-period tie with 2:57 left, and Boston beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I was trying to block the defence out and wheel and shoot,” said Lucic, who hadn’t scored in the playoffs and had just one goal since March 25. “Luckily, it found a hole. … It was more a relief than anything else. Especially when it’s a game-winner like that.”
Tuukka Rask made 24 saves, and Miroslav Satan and Johnny Boychuk also scored for Boston. The No. 6 seed in the East, the Bruins inherited home-ice advantage when the conference’s top three teams were eliminated in the opening round and protected it heading into Game 3 Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Brian Boucher stopped 24 shots for the Flyers, who rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits but have yet to lead in the series. Boston won Game 1 on Marc Savard’s overtime goal.
“It’s almost like back-to-back overtime losses, they scored so late,” said Flyers forward Danny Briere, who scored a goal and assisted on one by Mike Richards for his fourth straight multiple-point game. “The good thing, the positive, is we know we can play. We know we’re right there. It could be a bounce going one way or the other that can change the outcome.”
It was 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two. It stayed that way until Lucic got the puck between the circles, turned around and slapped a shot past Boucher.
Lucic missed a month early in the season with a broken finger and a month in the second half with a high ankle sprain, injuries that limited him to career-lows of 50 games and 20 points. When he returned, he was a steady presence in the lineup but not on the score sheet, getting just one goal in the last 10 games of the regular season and none in the first seven games of the playoffs.
“He obviously had a tough season, with everything he’s gone through with the ankle and everything like that,” Savard said. “He’s battling, and that’s a huge goal. It helps his confidence and he is only going to get better because of that.”
The Flyers pulled Boucher in the final minutes for an extra skater, but the best scoring chance was a shot by Daniel Paille that was picked off the post by Philadelphia defenceman Chris Pronger to keep it a one-goal game.
The Bruins have won seven in a row at home after winning just three of their last 17 in the regular season in Boston after the New Year’s Day Winter Classic against the Flyers at Fenway Park.
The Bruins led by two goals three times in Game 1 on Saturday, but the Flyers tied it with 3:22 to force overtime. Savard, who hadn’t played in almost two months because of a concussion, scored the winner to give the Bruins the early lead in the series.
Boston came out intent on holding serve at home.
The game started in chippy fashion, and both coaches were warned 18 seconds in when a scrum developed and the players pushed after the whistle. Daniel Carcillo complained to a broadcaster that Marc Savard bit his finger during a second-period skirmish.
“Last time I have been bit was in grade school. It is not a good feeling. It is pretty cowardly,” Carcillo said. “Guys don’t bite. Men don’t bite.”
Savard pointed the finger back at him.
“He pummelled on my face,” he said. “He pulled on my teeth, so I guess that’s biting when a guy tries and pull your front teeth out.”
The Bruins scored first for the second straight game when Boychuk beat Boucher at 5:12 of the first period.
This time, the Flyers came right back, tying it with 3:06 to play. The Bruins repeatedly failed to clear the zone, and Richards took advantage.
Boston made it 2-1 on Satan’s goal midway through the second, but Philadelphia tied it with 24.8 seconds left in the period when Briere found the upper corner on Rask’s stick side.
NOTES: Because of the water main break outside of Boston that forced residents to boil drinking and cooking water, the TD Garden brought in 13,520 bottles of water and 18,720 20-ounce bottles of soda to sub for the fountain drinks usually available at the concession stands. Sanitizer was provided for washing hands, and a 40-foot freezer truck was brought in with ice made outside the affected area. … Boston’s Patrice Bergeron was 9-0 in faceoffs in the first period. … Satan has a five-game point streak, with four goals and four assists. … Briere has nine points (four goals, five assists) in the last four playoff games.