Bruins clinch overall home ice edge
BOSTON - The Boston Bruins clinched the NHL's Presidents' Trophy and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs with a 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
The victory, in the club's home regular season finale, gave the Bruins their second top-points trophy since the award began in 1986-87. The Bruins also won it in 1989-90.
Their 117 points are the third-most in team history.
Center David Krejci scored two goals and center Patrice Bergeron had his 30th of the season as the Bruins, who finish the regular season with a meaningless game at New Jersey today, won for only the second time in their last six games.
The Bruins also avoided what would have been their one and only three-game losing streak of the season.
As of the end of the game, Philadelphia, Columbus and Detroit all remained possible first-round playoff matchups for the Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and lost in the finals last season.
The loss was the sixth straight and 10th in the last 11 games for the lowly Sabres, who have scored nine goals in the six-game skid.Bergeron left the game after two periods for an undisclosed reason and Bruins left winger Daniel Paille left dazed in the third period after a hit by defenseman Jake McCabe, who was tossed from the game with a major for interference.Soon after, Buffalo goalie Matt Hackett left on a stretcher after Bruins defenseman Torey Krug fell on his right leg. Replacement Connor Knapp, the NHL-record ninth goalie to dress for Buffalo this season, then made his NHL debut.
Soon after, Krejci's slap shot from the blue line missed the net, hit the back boards, came out and deflected off the goalie and in.
Krejci scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season, and center Gregory Campbell had his eighth, while center Cody Hodgson scored his career-high 20th for the Sabres after the Bruins led, 3-0.
Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (36-15-6) made 24 saves and also drew an assist on the fourth goal.
After the Bruins handed out their regular season awards in pre-game ceremonies, they started sluggishly. They didn't strike until late in the first period, but needed only 89 seconds to make it 2-0.
Left winger Jordan Caron did the hustle work on the first, centering the puck to Campbell for the re-direction, Campbell's first goal in 19 games, with Caron earning his third point in 34 games this season.
Krejci made it 2-0 when defenseman Zdeno Chara's slapper hit the backboards and came right out in front for the back-hand tap-in, Krejci's second goal in his last three games after going 16 games without one.
Soon after a dust-up involving Buffalo winger John Scott and Bruins Milan Lucic and Chara, Bergeron took a pass from left winger Brad Marchand and made it 3-0 at 11:43 of the second period.
The goal moved Bergeron to within a goal of matching his career high, set in 2005-06.
The Sabres answered after a giveaway by defenseman Matt Bartkowski, Hodgson beating Rask with a back-hander for his eighth point in the last eight games.
NOTES: D Torey Krug had two assists for Boston. ... Bruins LW Chris Kelly was out and won't play in Sunday's finale at New Jersey because of back spasms. As far as the playoffs, coach Claude Julien said: "We're optimistic right now, but I can't guarantee anything at this point." ... The Sabres host the New York Islanders in the season finale for those teams on Sunday. ... LW Ville Leino of Buffalo, who made $4 million this season and still has $11 million owed over the next three years, moved a step closer to a goal-less season as a healthy scratch. He will likely be a compliance buyout during the offseason. ... The Bruins gave out their team awards on Fan Appreciation Day. G Tuukka Rask won both the John Bucyk (community service) and Three Stars honors. LW Brad Marchand got the Gallery Gods' hustle award and C David Krejci the local hockey media's honor for top performer in home games. After the game, the Bruins gave their game shirts away to lucky fans.