Saturday, April 12, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Bruins 4, Sabres 1
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- For the first time since the 1989-90 season, the Boston Bruins clinched the Presidents' Trophy for the best record in the league with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.
With one regular-season game remaining Sunday at New Jersey Devils, the Bruins have a 54-18-9 record for 117 points.
The Presidents' Trophy has been officially awarded to the NHL's regular-season points leader since the 1985-86 season. In that time, eight teams have won both the Presidents' Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same season. The Chicago Blackhawks accomplished the feat last season, but it's not something that translates into a Cup championship with any regularity.
On Saturday, Boston received a pair of goals from David Krejci, while Gregory Campbell and Patrice Bergeron added a goal each. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 25 saves.
The final playoff seedings have yet to be determined and the Bruins could face the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets or Philadelphia Flyers in the first round.
Prior to Saturday's game, Bruins coach Claude Julien stressed to his players the importance of playing with a sense of urgency in the final two games of the regular season in order to prepare for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Bruins gained an early lead in the first period on Campbell's eighth goal of the season. Linemate Jordan Caron gained control of the puck along the half wall on the left side in the offensive zone and quickly threw the puck on net. Campbell was crashing the net and redirected the puck through the 5-hole on Buffalo goalie Matt Hackett to give Boston a 1-0 lead at 16:54 of the opening period.
The Bruins added to their lead at 18:23 of the first when Krejci notched his 18th of the season. Defenseman Zdeno Chara took a slap shot from the point and the puck ricocheted off the back wall. Krejci timed it perfectly and moved into position and pumped in the puck to give Boston a 2-0 advantage.
The Bruins gained a 3-0 lead at 11:43 of the second period when Bergeron netted his 30th of the season. Boston created sustained pressure in the offensive zone before Marchand fed Bergeron, who took a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle and beat Hackett to the short side. It's the second time in his career Bergeron has reached the 30-goal plateau. He scored 31 goals during the 2005-06 season.
The Sabres' Cody Hodgson scored Buffalo's first goal, beating Rask on a backhand during a scramble in front at 13:58 of the second period.
At the start of the third period, the Bruins announced Bergeron would not return for the remainder of the game for undisclosed reasons.
The Bruins gained a 4-1 lead when Krejci scored his second of the game, on the power play at 10:35. It was his 19th goal of the season.
With the win and the Presidents' Trophy in hand during the closing minutes, some of the 17,565 in attendance began to chant: "We want the Cup."
Injured: Bruins forward Daniel Paille needed to be helped off the ice in the third period after he was hit by the Sabres' Jake McCabe at 7:17. McCabe received a five-minute penalty for interference and was given a game misconduct. It appeared McCabe made contact with Paille's chin on the hit. Paille lay stunned on the ice and stumbled when he tried to get to his feet. He has already suffered a pair of concussions this season. With Paille on the ice, Campbell jumped in and dropped the gloves with McCabe.
On the ensuing play, the Bruins' Torey Krug collided with Hackett and the Sabres goalie appeared to suffer a right-leg injury and needed to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Save of the game: With the game scoreless early in the first period, the Sabres created a quality scoring chance in transition and broke in 2-on-1 on Rask. Buffalo's Matt D'Agostini appeared to have an easy tip-in goal but Rask flashed a left-pad save to stifle the opportunity.
Gutless: The Sabres' John Scott has a history when playing against the Bruins. That didn't change on Saturday. With the Bruins preparing for the playoffs, and ready for summer vacation, Scott was running at Bruins players early in the game before it came to a head in the second period. Bruins forward Milan Lucic was nowhere near the puck in the neutral zone when Scott took a run and wanted to drop the gloves. Lucic backed away, so Chara jumped in and grabbed Scott. He received a pair of two-minute penalties for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, along with a 10-minute misconduct. In the waning minutes of the game, both Chara and Scott were given 10-minute misconducts.
Sidelined: Bruins forward Chris Kelly missed his second consecutive game due to back spasms and he's not expected to play in the season finale on Sunday in New Jersey. Bruins coach Claude Julien said: "As far as the playoffs, we're optimistic right now, but I can't guarantee anything at this point." With Kelly sidelined, Daniel Paille moved up to the third line, while Jordan Caron was inserted into the lineup and played on the Bruins' energy line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
Up next: The Bruins close out the 2013-14 regular season against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (3 p.m.) at Prudential Center in New Jersey.