BOSTON — They could have mailed it in after trailing 3-1 during the third period of Saturday’s regular season finale against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden and move their focus to the postseason.
Instead, the Boston Bruins made sure that the Garden faithful of 17,565 went home happy on Fan Appreciation Day when Patrice Bergeron capped off the 4-3 victory with a pair of third period assists — on goals from fellow linemates Tyler Seguin (his second of the game) and Brad Marchand just 2:25 apart — and the shootout winner.
“Going into that third period, we really said we needed to have a good third period tonight if we want to have a good third period during the playoffs,” said Seguin, who also scored the game’s first goal 3:15 into the second period and ended the season as the team’s leader in points (29 G, 38 A, 67 P)
“If that sense of urgency, that passion, that commitment, we want to have — even in a game like today — in the third period just to show that we can do that in the playoffs as well. We got the win tonight, the last [regular season] game at home, and it was special.”
And now, the focus shifts to defense of Lords Stanley against either the Washington Capitals or the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs, beginning this Thursday in Boston. The Bruins will face the Caps if they defeat the New York Rangers Saturday night at Madison Square Garden and the Florida Panthers get one point against the Carolina Hurricanes. A Caps loss, or a Caps win and a Florida regulation loss, will mean that the B’s square off against their Northeast Division rivals from Ottawa .
Either way, the Bruins aren’t too concerned about either matchup.
“I think it’s all about us,” Bergeron said about the mindset of the team. “We can’t worry about which team we are going to play, because both teams are going [to give us] hard-fought games. When you’re headed to the playoffs, you know what’s at stake and everything is going to be a battle.”
Luckily for the Bruins, they have that postseason experience from the last five years and now that each night will be a grind, much like it was during last year’s Cup run.
“We have the experience from that last year,” Bergeron said, “and we need to go in not wishing for any opponents. We just need to go out there and worry about ourselves and making sure that we are ready for a tough series.”
While a matchup with the Sens seems more favorable given their 5-1 record against them in the regular season — compared to a 1-2-1 mark against the Caps — they can look back to last year’s 2-3-1 record in six games against the Montreal Canadiens prior to their first round matchup last April. Despite falling two games to none, the Bruins came back for the first time in franchise history to capture the series in seven games.
Either way, many Bruins, including Marchand, admitted that they will not be doing any scoreboard watching on the final night of the regular season.
“I won’t be watching at all,” said Marchand, the winner of the Dufresne Trophy handed out to the team’s top performer at home. “I’ll find out tomorrow and it doesn’t matter who we play. We’ve got to worry about what we have to do; to get our rest and prepare for whatever team that we’re going to be facing.”