March 21, 2018
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Victory over Sabres secures home ice throughout playoffs for Bruins

Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports
Winslow Townson | USA Today Sports
Members of the TD Garden staff paint on the Stanley Cup Playoffs logo after the Bruins clinched the best record in the NHL with a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Saturday in Boston.
By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins have taken their final regular season step by winning the Presidents’ Trophy and securing home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

But they know there’s more work to be done.

“It’s a nice accomplishment,” rookie defenseman Torey Krug said after Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. “Obviously, it’s not our main goal, but along the way you’re going to pick up things like that.

“It’s good; obviously the best record in the NHL speaks for itself. Now we’re onto our main goal and we’re going to have a lot of fun with it.”

On Sunday, goaltender Martin Brodeur made 16 saves in what was very likely his final game as a New Jersey Devil, helping his team beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Brodeur has said he would like to continue his career, even if it is with another franchise next season. Should he opt for retirement, he will conclude his career as the NHL’s all-time leader in victories (688) and shutouts (124) and three-time Stanley Cup winner.

Defensemen Marek Zidlicky scored twice for the Devils (35-29-18) and gave Brodeur a wave after his third-period power-play goal put the Devils ahead 3-1. Center Travis Zajac scored the Devils’ other goal.

Goaltender Chad Johnson made 28 saves as starter Tuukka Rask watched from the bench.

Boston, which won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and lost in the finals last season, will host the first two games of a first-round playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings, with the opener probably Thursday night.

Boston’s victory on Saturday, in the club’s home regular season finale, gave the Bruins their second top-points trophy since the award began in 1986-87. They 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 on Sunday, won for only the second time in their last six games.

“I think we’re really proud of what he’s accomplished this year,” coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron. “Thirty goals is quite a feat, and for a guy who excels at both ends of the ice even more so.

“It takes a heck of a player to be able to score 30 and be so reliable defensively and be as strong at both ends of the ice. That’s an incredible player in my mind.”

The Bruins also avoided what would have been their one and only three-game losing streak of the 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 because of what Julien called a minor injury.

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, even though the hit looked clean.

Paille had already suffered two concussions this season, but a report surfaced after the game that he had passed this concussion test.

“He tried to go through me,” McCabe said. “I kept my hands down. It’s just kind of an unfortunate play. I think his head was down. It’s too bad.”

Soon after the collision, 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.

Hackett sustained a serious leg injury and accompanied the team back to Buffalo. Coach Ted Nolan said the goalie didn’t suffer a broken leg, but that the injury “doesn’t look good right now.”

Krejci scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season, and center Gregory Campbell had his eighth (first in 19 games), 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.

Bergeron’s goal moved him to within a goal of matching his career high, set in 2005-06.

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