Tuukka Rask made 31 saves Saturday to help the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins defeat the Detroit Red Wings, 4-2, in Game 5 at Boston to clinch the teams’ first-round playoff series, four games to one.
The Bruins, who finished the regular season with the best record in the NHL, advance to the conference semifinals against the Montreal Canadiens.
“That series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who gave Boston the lead for good with four seconds left in the second period. “I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”
Loui Eriksson opened the scoring for Boston, and Zdeno Chara snapped a second-period tie to give the Bruins the lead for good. Milan Lucic also scored, and Jarome Iginla added an empty-net goal.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored and Jonas Gustavsson stopped 29 shots for the Red Wings, who scored only six goals in the five-game series.
“We’re not there yet,” said Detroit Coach Mike Babcock, whose team beat the Ducks in the first round last year but has failed to win a playoff series in two of the last three seasons.
“The last two years, we battled to get into the playoffs. To me, that’s a measure of where we are. Instead of battling for the Cup, we’re battling to make the playoffs.”
at Pittsburgh 3, Columbus 1: Jussi Jokinen scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the Penguins took a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.
Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang also scored for Pittsburgh, which has the upstart Blue Jackets on the verge of elimination with an opportunity to close out the series Monday in Game 6 at Columbus.
It hasn’t been easy for the Penguins, a team considered by many a Stanley Cup contender. Columbus, which began the series searching for the first postseason victory in franchise history, twice rallied to stun the heavily favored Penguins.
Boone Jenner scored the lone goal on Saturday for Columbus, which played the first Game 5 in franchise history.
Pittsburgh peppered Sergei Bobrovsky with 50 shots on goal, keeping the Blue Jackets goalie busy all night.
“We competed hard,” the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby said. “We played desperate and really aggressive. That’s the game we have to play. It’s not always going to result in 50 shots, but it’s our style of play.”
at Colorado 4, Minnesota 3 (OT): Nathan MacKinnon scored 3:27 into overtime after P.A. Parenteau tied the game late in regulation, helping the Avalanche rally for a win over the Wild and a 3-2 lead in the series.
MacKinnon poked the puck past Darcy Kuemper’s glove with two defenders all over him. The rookie also had two assists.
Parenteau scored with 1:14 left after Avalanche coach Patrick Roy pulled goaltender Semyon Varlamov with 2:22 remaining. The strategy worked out yet again.
The series switches back to Minnesota for Game 6 on Monday.
Nick Holden and Cody McLeod also added goals for the Avalanche.
Kyle Brodziak, Zach Parise and Matt Moulson scored for the Wild. Two of Minnesota’s goals came after a Colorado defenseman shattered their stick and had to play without one.