BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins own the NHL’s best home record.
Now they know they’ll have home-ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Johnny Boychuk scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:06 left in the third period, Milan Lucic had two goals and the Bruins clinched the conference’s best record with a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
With four games remaining on their schedule, the Bruins have 50 regulation and overtime wins — the league’s first tiebreaker. Second-place Pittsburgh has 44 and can’t catch Boston if it wins the rest of its games.
“You work so hard for that all season, it’s nice we could do it here,” Lucic said.
It was Boston’s league-leading 30th home victory.
The win also moved Boston two points ahead of St. Louis for the NHL’s best record. The Blues lost to Colorado on Saturday.
“With the win today we clinched (the conference), and it’s good for our team,” Boston defenseman Torey Krug said. “We’re excited about having home ice now.”
Boston coach Claude Julien knows it’s been a good season.
“You just have to look at our record,” he said. “We’re at 113 (points). I think that shows you overall we’ve been a pretty good team. We’ve had struggles at times, but I don’t think there’s an area I’d consider a weakness on the team.”
David Krejci also scored for the Bruins and Patrice Bergeron extended his consecutive point streak to 11 games, setting up Boychuk’s go-ahead score.
Wayne Simmonds and Jay Rosehill scored for the Flyers, who are in a tight race with a group of teams for a playoff spot.
“Every game is a must-win,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “There are a lot of teams behind us trying to make the playoffs. We have played good enough to be in the position we are right now and we can’t forget that. We have to remember that we are a good team and we are in this position because we did a lot of good things this year.”
Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots for the Bruins, who had lost their past two games.
Ray Emery made 37 saves for the Flyers. Philadelphia has lost three straight.
Emery hopes the Flyers can turn things around quickly.
“The playoffs come fast and if you’re not playing well, normally you see yourselves out pretty quick,” he said. “So we definitely want to be sharp going in.”
Bergeron won a faceoff cleanly back to Boychuk, who fired a slap shot past Emery’s glove for the go-ahead goal. Lucic scored less than a minute later and Chris Kelly added an empty-netter with 21 seconds to play.
The teams were tied 2-2 entering the third period after the Flyers came back twice.
Trailing 1-0, the Flyers snapped a lengthy scoreless stretch on Simmonds’ power-play goal 14:36 into the second when he gained possession of a shot off the back boards and slipped a backhand behind Rask.Philadelphia was shut out in its past two games, and it halted the scoreless stretch at 165:01.
But Boston regained the lead 19 seconds later when Krejci circled the net and fed Lucic, who one-timed a shot past Emery from the slot.
Philadelphia then tied it at 2 when Rosehill collected Michael Raffl’s pass alone at the bottom of the right circle, spun quickly and beat Rask inside the far post at 16:21.
Krejci’s goal 15:56 into the first period gave Boston a 1-0 lead. He scored off the rebound of Loui Eriksson’s shot, collecting the puck and shifting to his right before firing a wrist shot into the open side of the net.
NOTES: Boston F Jarome Iginla was sidelined for the second time in three games, moving Eriksson to the top line. The team said the first one was because of a lower body injury, but didn’t have injury details of this one before the game. “It’s very minor,” Julien said. “More of a maintenance day.” … Bruins D Kevan Miller was also scratched with an unspecified injury. … The Flyers host Buffalo on Sunday before three straight road games. … Boston is off until it opens a two-game road trip at Minnesota on Tuesday. The Bruins are at Winnipeg on Thursday. … Boston F Reilly Smith was presented the team’s Seventh Player Award before the game. The award is voted by the fans for the player that performs “above and beyond” expectations. … It was the Flyers’ only regular season visit to Boston.
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