BOSTON -- Once again, Boston captain Zdeno Chara was a focal point for Boston in their 5-1 victory Friday in their series-clinching win against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their conference semifinal series at TD Garden.
Last season, Philadelphia slipped out of an 0-3 series hole and staged the ultimate comeback, becoming just the third team in NHL history to erase a three-game deficit and win a Stanley Cup Playoff series.
There would be no comeback this time because Boston scored four unanswered goals in the third period -- including two empty-net goals -- to break open a 1-1 tie.
Chara was right in the middle of all of it.
He played 26:04 in the contest, a total that would have been even higher had it not been for a first-period double-minor for roughing Scott Hartnell in a goal-mouth scrum. He blocked three shots; played 2:36 on a penalty kill that killed all three Flyers power plays; played 3:52 on the Boston power play, which opened the scoring with a first-period goal by Milan Lucic; and he finished a plus-2.
After the game, Chara talked about the victory, which sends Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1992. Boston will open that best-of-7 series against Tampa Bay sometime next week.
Question: How much does this win mean to the team?
Chara: Well I think that it's, in some way it's obviously a nice goal to reach, but at the same time I think that we are excited but we know that next round is going to be a tough one. We know who we are going to face. So we just have to get some rest and prepare for next round. But right now we are going to enjoy today's victory.
Question: Can you just talk about the character the team showed in this series?
Chara: Well, I feel like we didn't have the greatest start going into the playoffs, but we found a way to battle ourselves out of it. Everybody really stepped it up and started to play playoff hockey, and obviously, we're playing extremely hard and for each other. What else can I say? I mean, Philadelphia is just a great team. They threw everything at us in different variations and, obviously, we saw tonight they battled extremely hard for their lives. Eventually we got that go-ahead goal and then another one and from that point I guess we controlled the game. We're really focusing on the defensive part of it, but we have to give them a lot of credit. We know that we won four straight, but they had a hell of a season. They were basically dominating the whole Eastern Conference for most of the regular season. There was a point towards the end where they slowed down, but I thought that they were probably the best team during the regular season.
Question: Was what happened last season against Philadelphia brought up a lot?
Chara: No. I really thought this year we were just really focusing on playing our game and our style. Nobody was really, to be honest with you, was even talking about last year. We were just really trying to stay focused and taking it one game at a time and do our best. Like I said, some games were much closer than the score was showing, but we just find a way to win and grinded it out.
Question: What does it feel like to make it this far for fans that have waited 19 years for you guys to get this far again?
Chara: Well, I think they deserve it. Obviously it's a huge motivation for them. It's a big motivation for us. We know how they can get excited and they were obviously showing it throughout the whole first and second round. I'm sure it's going to be even more now. But they deserve it. They've been waiting for quite a while and now they just can enjoy a few more games and another round.
Question: Why were you guys so dominant in this series?
Chara: Well, we stick with a system and play hard and for each other. Really, you have to pay attention to the details and stay focused.