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Christopher L. Gasper

Up and at ’em from drop of puck

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Columnist / May 1, 2011

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PHILADELPHIA — The Penn Relays wrapped up here yesterday, and there were some quick starts by participants in the famous track and field festival. But no one in Philadelphia got out of the blocks better than your Boston Bruins in their second-round reunion with the Flyers.

The Black and Gold didn’t trail for a single second of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on their way to a resounding and satisfying 7-3 win at Wells Fargo Center. It was the Bruins’ first road win to start a series since they pulled off the trick against the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999.

The Bruins have won five of their last six playoff games, after it looked like they might be out of the playoffs faster than you can say “1972.’’

The Bruins led, 1-0, less than two minutes in, 2-1 after the first period, and built a 5-1 advantage late in the second. There was no blowing a lead this time against the Flyers, only blowing it out.

“Well, we talked about it . . . starting on the right foot in the series, and I think we did a pretty good job of that,’’ said David Krejci, who had more points yesterday (2-2—4) than he had in seven games against the Canadiens (1-0—1).

The bent-on-revenge Bruins drew first blood, much to the dismay of the obstreperous folks in orange. The crowd reached a crescendo for “God Bless America,’’ a Flyers tradition. Minutes later, Krejci, a blank Czech for much of the Montreal series, put a backhander by Flyers goalie Brian Boucher just 1:52 in.

“That first goal by Krech was huge for us,’’ said winger Brad Marchand, who had two goals and an assist. “It really got us going, maybe put them on their heels a bit. Something we really wanted was to have a big start and kind of show we’re ready for the series.’’

It was crucial for the Bruins to start fast because of the emotional baggage they brought after their epic failure against the Flyers last year. The Bruins had to show the Sons of Bobby Clarke that they were not going to be intimidated, that there was no psychological edge from the ignominious defeat the Flyers laid on them last season.

If you didn’t already know it, these are not the same teams as last year. Flyers hero Simon Gagne now toils in Tampa Bay. Tuukka Rask is now a break-in-case-of-emergency backup to Tim Thomas. Vladimir Sobotka and Marc Savard are playoff spectators.

The best news for the Spoked-Believers was that the first line of Milan Lucic, Krejci, and Nathan Horton didn’t wait until Game 3 of this series to make an impact. Horton, the hero of the Canadiens series, had a goal and two assists. He assisted on Krejci’s opening tally, and whacked his own rebound past Boucher to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead with 35.7 seconds left in the first period.

It was the first of four straight goals that turned another potential playoff nail-biter into an unexpected cakewalk.

“They’re such a dominant line when they play their game,’’ said Marchand. “You saw it tonight, three goals. The way they can wear defensemen down and control the puck in the offensive end. It really gives us a lot of energy and a lot of momentum.

“We’re not going to win without those guys, so we have to make sure they’re going all the time. They did tonight. They really stepped up for us.’’

The Flyers’ glaring weakness, as glaring as their Day-Glo orange sweaters, is in goal.

It got awfully quiet on Broad Street after Krejci scored his second goal, tipping home an Adam McQuaid slapper to put the Bruins up, 4-1, at 15:26 of the second. Flyers fans then proceeded to mock cheer Boucher when he made a pair of routine saves.

The mocking became booing when Marchand lifted one past Boucher 1:48 after Krejci’s tally. That was it for Boucher, who was pulled for Sergei Bobrovsky, who had not dressed in four games.

Flyers fans were wondering what in the name of Ron Hextall was going on.

“I think we scored good goals. I don’t think he played badly,’’ said Krejci.

There were a few tense moments for the boys in the Spoked-B sweaters when the Flyers pulled within 5-3 with 6:58 left on a power-play goal by Mike Richards.

But 1:57 later, Marchand netted his second of the game and the sea of orange in the stands parted, and departed for the parking lot.

About the only thing that didn’t go right for the Bruins was their power play. Boston went 0 for 5 and is still 0 for the playoffs, 26 and counting, on the man-advantage. At this point, the goal judge can just take a coffee break when the Bruins have a power play.

But that’s nitpicking at this point. The Bruins broke out of the blocks in grand fashion. No 0-2 series hole this time, as they were the ones making history at the Flyers’ expense. Boston won a Game 1 on the road for the first time in the 21st century.

The Bruins still have a long way to go to atone for last year, but yesterday’s win in a second-round do-over with Philadelphia was a good start.

Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at cgasper@globe.com and can be read at www.boston.com. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.

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