Boston Bruins shut out Tampa Bay Lightning, clinch 2017 NHL playoff berth

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara skating as he chases down the puck. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara skating as he chases down the puck. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak didn't seem to care about the ugly stitched cut under his left eye after Tuesday night's game.

He was going to the NHL playoffs for the first time.


"It's a new feeling. I'm enjoying it a lot," the third-year winger said after his 33rd and 34th goals of the season helped the Bruins to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning that officially ended Boston's two-year absence from the playoffs. "It's a lot of fun. Just the excitement, seeing all the guys happy here."

The win left the Bruins tied with the Ottawa Senators for second place in the Atlantic Division, a point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators have a game in hand the Bruins, who actually have them in second place and Ottawa visits TD Garden on Thursday night.

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"It's always a sad feeling when you're not making the playoffs," said captain Zdeno Chara, who also scored in the win. "You work extremely hard to be in the playoffs."

It has been 25 games since the Bruins fired Claude Julien, the winningest coach in franchise history, and they've gone 18-7-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. They have won their last six, their longest winning streak since a 12-gamer in 2014.


Tuukka Rask continued his late-season surge, making 28 saves for his second shutout in four starts since Cassidy called him out after his shaky performance against the Lightning on March 23.

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"It feels great. The city deserves it. The organization deserves it and we feel like we deserve it too," said Rask, who pitched his eighth shutout of the season and the 38th of his career. "Everybody can breathe a little bit easier now, but we still have two games left before the real games start."

The Bruins will finish second or third in the Atlantic or in the second wild-card spot. After hosting Ottawa on Thursday, the Washington Capitals are in Saturday and both are potential first-round opponents.

But the victory could have been costly for Boston. Brad Marchand was ejected in the first period for spearing Jake Dotchin in the groin.

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Marchand, a 39-goal scorer, received a major and game misconduct and faces league discipline that could result in his seventh suspension. He was also fined the maximum $10,000 for an incident, also involving the Lightning, earlier this season.

"It was an undisciplined penalty," Marchand said. "There's no question about that. It could have cost the team a very important game, but the guys did a great job of rallying and having a huge game."


Asked about a suspension, Marchand said, "I have no idea. I haven't seen the replay. But I got kicked out of the game. The refs made their call. I'm just trying to enjoy the win with the boys."

The loss put the short-handed Lightning on the brink of playoff elimination as they saw a five-game road winning streak stopped and suffered their first regulation loss in their last seven games overall.

"There's a lot of guys in there that have never been in this situation before," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "That was like a playoff game. It's a learning experience and hopefully they're quick learners because we're going to need an effort against Toronto.

"But we're not done yet."

The Lightning have three games left -- Thursday at Toronto, Friday at Montreal and Sunday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.

The six-game winning streak is Boston's longest since a 12-gamer in 2014.

Rask has allowed three goals in his four-game winning streak, with backup Anton Khudobin yielding three in his fifth and sixth straight wins.

Drew Stafford had the first Boston goal and David Krejci had two assists.


Boston dominated in the faceoff circle, with Patrice Bergeron winning all 17 of his draws.

According to STATS Inc., Bergeron became the first NHL player perfect with at least 17 draws in a game since Curtis Brown of the Buffalo Sabres with 19 of 19 against the Atlanta Thrashers on Oct. 4, 2001.

Only four Bruins since 2003 have been perfect with at least 10 faceoffs.

Dotchin, in obvious pain, was able to return in the second period, important because his team was already playing a man short from the start of the game.

Andrei Vasilevskiy played well and made 34 saves with Pastrnak's second goal going into an empty net.

NOTES: Tampa Bay C/captain Steven Stamkos still wasn't quite ready to return from the knee injury that caused him to miss his 62nd straight game, but he would not rule out playing again this week. "As long as we're still in the mix, I consider it worth it," he said. "We're in the mix, a big one tonight. We'll see."... D Jason Garrison, who returned Sunday after missing four games with a lower-body injury but played only two periods, was a scratch for the Lightning as was C Gabriel Dumont, whose wife was giving birth. His sudden departure left his team a player short in the game -- the second time in four games that has happened. D Luke Witkowski moved to forward. ... The Bruins, who signed F Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson out of Boston University on Sunday, were still waiting for immigration paperwork before he could report.


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