BOSTON — Claude Julien decided not to give his goalie a pep talk after a pratfall in the crease handed the Rangers a goal that had the potential to turn the series around.
Instead the Bruins’ coach waited until after Tuukka Rask responded by stopping 28 of 29 shots to help Boston beat New York 3-1 in Game 5 on Saturday and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“That’s what I told Tuukka at the end of the game, ‘You can start laughing now,’ ” Julien said after the Bruins followed their seven-game series against Toronto by avoiding a nail-biter against the Rangers.
“We probably played with fire in the first round and almost got burned,” Julien said. “We knew we couldn’t let our guard down (against New York). Because if we did, they would come right back at us.”
Gregory Campbell scored twice and recent call-up defenseman Torey Krug scored his fourth goal of the series for Boston, which will meet Pittsburgh for the right to play for the Stanley Cup.
Boston was up 3-0 in the second-round series, with a 2-0 lead in Game 4 Thursday when Rask tripped on a rut in the crease and flailed at a slow-moving puck as it rolled over the line.
The Rangers went on to win 4-3 in overtime, forcing the series back to Boston for a fifth game.
“We wanted to make sure we ended this series – for all the right reasons,” including rest for players who went to overtime in Game 7 against Toronto, Julien said. “It also gives Tuukka the opportunity to laugh about that goal.”
Rask made sure there wouldn’t be another collapse, stopping Ryan Callahan on a breakaway with just under 10 minutes left.
Callahan split the defense and went to his backhand, but Rask turned it away with the blocker on his right arm.
“As a goalie, you expect to make one or two big saves. And today it happened,” Rask said.
“I didn’t feel bad about myself after Game 4; obviously there was a little screw-up there with that goal. But I didn’t let that bother me and I felt like I played a decent game after that.”
Campbell broke a 1-1 tie in the second period, then added an empty-netter with 51 seconds left to clinch it after Henrik Lundqvist was pulled for an extra skater.
Lundqvist played well, making 29 saves, and Dan Girardi scored for the Rangers.
“I expected more from us and I hoped for more,” Lundqvist said. “Right now it’s just an empty feeling and disappointment. Some years you don’t really have a chance to go that far in the playoffs, you just battle hard. I think this year we had a pretty good team, but there were a few games when we didn’t reach our top level. When you play a team like Boston, it’s going to be tough to beat them.”
The Rangers took an early lead Saturday, but they could not send the series back to New York for a sixth game.
“I watched our team fight tonight to extend this series. We get it on a big guy’s stick with a chance to tie it,” Rangers Coach John Tortorella said. “So it goes. They were the better team. They deserved to win.”
Girardi made it 1-0 on a power-play goal with 9:21 left in the first, one-timing a pass from Mats Zucarello into the net.
The Bruins scored a power-play goal of their own 3:48 into the second when Krug took a pass from Tyler Seguin and hit the top of the net.
Ten minutes later, Daniel Paille sent the puck to the net and it got caught up in traffic. Shawn Thornton knocked it to Campbell, who swept it in for the go-ahead goal.
The Rangers pulled Lundqvist with 1:15 left, but the Bruins quickly found the empty net on a slow-rolling shot by Campbell.
NOTES: Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was injured in the first minute of Game 7 in the first round, returned. Dougie Hamilton was a scratch. … Rangers forward Brad Richards, the 2004 Conn Smythe winner, was a scratch.