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Bruins vs. Flyers, Game 4: Boston Sweeps Away Philadelphia, Advances To First Conference Finals Since 1992

Milan Lucic awoke from his postseason offensive slumber and Johnny Boychuk netted the game-winning goal minutes into the third period to sweep the Bruins’ 357-day old demons - and the Philadelphia Flyers along with them - away.

Tim Thomas made 22 saves to backstop the Bruins to their fifth straight win, and eighth win in their last nine games since starting the playoffs with back-to-back losses to the hated Montreal Canadiens, and 17,565 strong cheered the Black and Gold’s first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals since 1992.

As if the Flyers 0-3 deficit wasn’t pressure enough, the Bruins started like a team that had little to lose - a ferocious two-man forecheck by Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron led to an early Flyers’ turnover in their own end that Bergeron nearly converted into a goal less than 30 seconds in. But it wasn’t to be, and the Bruins weren’t able to generate the same hot start that they used to fell the Flyers in Wednesday night’s game three.

They did get a couple more playoff monkeys off their backs when on the power play, Lucic scooped up a Nathan Horton rebound and potted the puck for his first goal of the 2011 playoffs and the team’s first meaningful man-advantage marker.

Things got chippy at the end of the first period when Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell took a run at Tim Thomas and Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara took exception with his fists. Hartnell promptly turtled, assuring his team that they wouldn’t wind up short-handed, but the Flyers failed to do anything with the ensuing power play.

Philadelphia took an otherwise even second period when Kris Versteeg caught a pass from Mike Richards behind the Bruins’ defense and put it over Thomas’ glove to tie the game, but they couldn’t keep up the pressure when they needed to in the third.

Some 20 seconds after Claude Giroux sent Bergeron to the locker room with a hit that caused the Bruins’ assistant captain’s head to hit the ice, Boychuk’s blast off a face-off turnover beat Sergei Bobrovsky glove-side high, and the pressure turned back to Philadelphia. The Flyers responded with ten strong minutes of hockey, but their pressing allowed Lucic to get behind the defense and bury a Horton pass to make it 3-1.

Empty-net goals by Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille rounded out the scoring, and the Bruins waltzed on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they haven’t been since the very early Clinton Administration and where they haven’t won a game since 1991.