You can add Eastern Conference regular season champions to the Boston Bruins' growing list of accomplishments for the 2013-14 season.
Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic, and Chris Kelly all scored in the final six minutes of a great afternoon matchup between two playoff-bound teams, as the Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 in Boston to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins stepped up their play throughout the game, outshooting the Flyers 42-26 overall and 22-8 in the final stanza.
Boychuk scored the game-winning goal with 6:06 left in the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie with his famous "Johnny Rocket" slap shot from the blue line. Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff cleanly, sending the puck back to Boychuk for a one-time blast that beat Flyers' goalie Ray Emery for the winning score. Emery was under siege for most of the third period, having to make numerous stops to try to keep the game tied during a period dominated by the Bruins.
The B's put the game away just 31 seconds later, as they turned a missed shot by the Flyers into a 4-on-2 up ice. Loui Eriksson worked one side of the ice, with Torey Krug jumping in through the center and Milan Lucic on the other side. Eriksson found Krug, who passed across to Lucic for a wrist shot by Emery for his second goal of the game.
Chris Kelly added an empty net goal with 21 seconds remaining to cap the scoring for the Bruins. Loui Eriksson notched an assist on that goal, giving him four assists on the day. It is Eriksson's second career four-point game, and his first as a member of the Boston Bruins.
The game had a playoff feel to it from the start, as both teams brought the physicality and nastiness early. Zac Rinaldo wasted no time on introducing himself to Lucic with a big open-ice hit in the first minute of the game. Lucic responded by engaging Rinaldo to fight, but when the Flyers' enforcer declined Lucic took exception and drew a roughing penalty with just 51 seconds elapsed in the game. The Flyers were unable to capitalize on the early power-play, but it did set the tone for the intense play throughout the game. Just past the halfway point in the first period, Shawn Thornton and Jay Rosehill dropped the gloves for an even fight that sent both players to the box for five minutes.
Prior to the fight, the Flyers were controlling play on both ends, but the fisticuffs seemed to ignite the Bruins' play. The B's got on the board first with 4:04 left in the period on a great team effort by the first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Loui Eriksson. A solid pass from Zdeno Chara sprung the three forwards into the attacking zone for a 3-on-2 chance. Krejci found an open Eriksson for a chance on Emery, who was able to make the stop. The puck squirted around the front of the net, with multiple Flyers' players missing an opportunity to clear the puck out of the crease. Eriksson had another shot on net which was also stopped by Emery, but Krejci was able to find the rebound in space and fake out Emery for an easy goal. Eriksson was filling in for Jarome Iginla on the first line, as Iginla missed his second straight game.
A seemingly simple pass in front of Bruins' goalie Tuukka Rask led to a power-play chance and ultimately the equalizing goal for the Flyers during the later stages of the second period. Torey Krug's stick shattered while he was trying to send a pass in front of Rask, and Krug was sent to the penalty box shortly afterwards when he attempted to play the puck with the broken stick. Philadelphia took advantage of the extra skater late in the power-play, when Mark Streit's slap shot from the center blue-line bounced off the back boards, deflecting right in front of Rask and onto the open stick of Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds faked a forehand one-timer and held for an easy backhand into the open net for his 26th goal of the season.
It took the Bruins 19 seconds to respond to Simmonds' goal, with the first line cashing in yet again. David Krejci took the puck down low into the Flyers' end, going behind the net and finding Milan Lucic for an open slap shot blast that found its way past Emery to give the Bruins back the lead at 2-1. The assist puts Krejci one away from 50 assists on the season, and just two assists away from tying his career-high total from the 2008-09 season.
An unlikely scorer tied the game at 2-2 just two minutes later to cap a frantic two minutes that saw three goals scored. Jay Rosehill was parked down low to the right of Rask at the goal line, and teammate Michael Raffi sent the puck to him. Rosehill skated in on Rask, making a spinning acrobatic move to send a tough angled backhand past the Bruins' goalie for just his second goal of the year.
The Bruins have four games left in the regular season, with just one left on home ice. They will play Buffalo next Saturday in their home finale, which will culminate with the players giving fans the jerseys off their backs after the game. Prior to today's game, Reilly Smith was given the 7th Player Award, as he was voted by fans as the player who exceeded expectations for the season.