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Boychuk shot a slap to face

Go-ahead blast stung opposition

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By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / May 7, 2011

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Johnny Boychuk took more time to celebrate his goal last night than he did to score it.

Boychuk, the 27-year-old Bruins defenseman with the big shot, grabbed the lead for the home team in the third period. Boychuk’s slap shot from the right point at 2:42 gave the Bruins a 2-1 advantage and cracked open the fourth game of the Eastern Conference semifinal series. Boychuk’s goal powered the Bruins to a 5-1 victory over Philadelphia.

When the red light signaling the goal came on, Boychuk dropped to one knee and pumped his fist over and over as he slid across the ice. He said it likely was the longest celebration he’s ever had.

“Nobody was around me,’’ he said with a grin.

Boychuk was set up for the shot by Chris Kelly, who had a clean faceoff win from Jeff Carter.

“The puck came back to me and it was kind of rolling, and I just tried to put it on net,’’ Boychuk said. “And it went in. That’s it.’’

But it was way more than that. The Bruins came to the game with a 3-0 series lead over the Flyers, a repeat of last season’s nightmare, when the Black and Gold collapsed and lost four straight and the series.

Last night, in the New Game 4, they were tied with the Flyers after two difficult periods. One bounce either way could change everything.

Moments before Boychuk’s goal, Claude Giroux slammed into Patrice Bergeron in the left circle of the Bruins’ zone. Bergeron went down hard, got up slowly, and went to the locker room.

Boychuk said he didn’t see Bergeron leave the game, but he saw the team come to life after he scored his goal — his second of the playoffs — seconds later.

“As soon as we scored,’’ he said, “we started to go again and you know, we needed that.’’

Boychuk had three shots on net and a handful more that were blocked by the Flyers’ defense. But he said he was not frustrated by the deflections, he just kept shooting.

“You just want to try to get it past the first guy,’’ said Boychuk. “[Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky] saw a couple of them and he did a good job, but on that one, it was kind of knuckling, might have moved on him maybe.’’

The goal gave the Bruins a chance to take a deep breath, but only one.

“I was very happy,’’ said goalie Tim Thomas, “but at that point, there was still a lot of time in the period and it only made it 2-1.

“I was very happy, and especially happy that Johnny Boychuk scored. He has been great for me all year. I love playing with him.’’

The Bruins have had plenty of offensive contributions from the defense in this series, including a pair of goals from Zdeno Chara in Game 3, two assists from Dennis Seidenberg and one each from Andrew Ference and Adam McQuaid in Game 1, and even a setup by Tomas Kaberle in Game 2.

“We’re just trying to read the play, pinching when we have a third man high, making sure to keep it deep,’’ said Boychuk. “Our forwards are doing a good job of backing us up, it gives us time to pinch and keep the play alive and that’s how we join offensively.’’

Now that the series is won, the Bruins were a little more willing to briefly revisit last season’s debacle.

“That was devastating last year,’’ said Boychuk, who is playing his second full season with the Bruins. “We didn’t really think about it too much through the season, honestly. We just wanted to learn from it and put it behind us. You know it happened, you learn from it, and it’s in the past.’’

Except that this time, when the Bruins got to Game 4 with a chance to shut down the Flyers, they never stopped.

“We wanted to make sure — when we had that chance to close it off, we wanted to close it off,’’ said Boychuk, “and we did.’’

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