Bruins’ Special Teams Key Factor Against Red Wings; Other Notes From Round 1

Tuukka Rask, Patrice BergeronBOSTON — The Bruins are headed to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons, and unlike the previous three Round 1 series, they didn’t need overtime of Game 7 to settle their fate.

Boston defeated the Detroit Red Wings in a hard fought series that ended with a 4-2 victory in Game 5 Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. But the series was a lot closer than the 4-1 advantage would indicate.

“Well that series was much tougher than maybe the results showed,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after Game 5. “Detroit is a really good team with a great system, great players. We were just able to play our game and stay on top of it. It wasn’t a one-sided series; it was much closer, like I said than 4-1 showed. I think that we handled it well, we came into this series ready and we got the job done.”

The B’s will face the rival Montreal Canadiens in Round 2. These teams have met 33 previous times in the postseason, with the Bruins winning the two most recent series (Round 1 in 2009, 2011).

Here are some notable news, notes and quotes from Bruins-Red Wings series.

–Boston’s dominant special teams play was the difference against Detroit. The Bruins were 6-for-16 on the power play, which is the most PP goals they have scored in a single playoff series since Round 1 in 2010 against the Buffalo Sabres. The B’s lead all playoff teams with a 37.1 percent success rate with the man advantage.

“If you look at (our power-play goals) they were all huge,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “Huge goals and our power play has been good for us all year, I think it finished in third in the overall standings throughout the season. So it’s nice that it’s a weapon instead of something that’s kind of taking momentum away from us.”

Boston was equally strong on the penalty kill, finishing 18-for-20 through five games. The Bruins and the Anaheim Ducks are the only two teams ranked in the top five of power-play percentage and penalty killing in Round 1.

–Dougie Hamilton played the best hockey of his career against the Red Wings. He was creating scoring chances with his speed, playmaking skills and high hockey IQ, while also playing solid defense alongside Chara. He was poised with the puck, didn’t make many mistakes and showed an incredible amount of confidence in all three zones.

His assist on Loui Eriksson’s first-period power-play goal was a great example of his elite offensive skill.

“That was awesome,” Bruins D-man Torey Krug said when asked about Hamilton’s first-period assist. “He was flying with speed. He had done that a couple of times in this series when he has come in and his goal…I think it was last game, I don’t remember. His goal was a very similar play.”

–Tuukka Rask was exceptional against the Red Wings. He leads the playoffs with a 1.16 goals against average, a .961 save percentage and a .969 even-strength save percentage. Rask made a number of outstanding saves throughout the series, most notably his breakaway save on Justin Abdelkader in overtime of Game 4.

“It was great throughout the series,” Rask said of his team’s defensive performance. “I don’t think we had too many breakdowns. We gave them a few chances but really, really good effort from everybody, but it’s only one series. We’ve got to keep that kind of effort going.”

–Loui Eriksson’s first-period goal in Game 5 was his first in the playoffs since May 14, 2008, when he played for Dallas. That was in the Western Conference Finals against the Red Wings.

–With assists in Game 5, Patrice Bergeron and Dougie Hamilton have four and three-game point streaks, respectively.

–This was the 20th best-of-7 series in which the Bruins had led by a 3-1 margin. After Saturday’s win, they have closed out the series in five games on 11 of those occasions.

–Detroit winger Daniel Alfredsson has not decided if he’s going to retire. The 41-year-old veteran said after Game 5 that if he does come back next year, returning to the Red Wings is “the likely scenario” at the moment.

Yardbarker

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