In a meaningless 82nd game, the Bruins and Canadiens manufactured some entertaining moments, as Boston closed out the regular season with its 65th and final win. A back-and-forth contest saw the Bruins take down their Original Six rival, 5-4.
The Black and Gold had a rough opening frame on special teams, which started off with Lucas Condotta netting his first NHL goal off a funky bounce that made its way past Jeremy Swayman.
Trent Frederic continued to build on his career season, tapping in a heads-up feed from Connor Clifton to even the contest. Later in the period, Jake DeBrusk matched his career-high 27th goal as his quick shot surprised Sam Montembeault.
Patrice Bergeron left the game after the first period. The Bruins announced Bergeron’s exit as a “precautionary” measure to deal with a reported upper-body injury.
The Canadiens notched two quick tallies in the middle frame. Nick Suzuki tipped in his 26th of the year to tie things up. Just 1:08 later, an overzealous Swayman committed a head-scratching turnover outside of his crease. An assertive Michael Pezzetta took advantage of Swayman’s gift for one of the easiest goals of his career.
Dmitry Orlov provided an answer at 13:58 of the second period, rocketing a bad-angle wrister past the shoulder of Montembeault to tie things up once again.
The Bruins’ defensive woes continued in the third period, this time on the man advantage. Justin Barron buried a wide-open chance in the slot for the shorthanded tally, re-establishing Montreal’s lead.
As they have all year, the Bruins strung together yet another third-period comeback. Orlov led the way, feeding Pastrnak for the game-winner after Charlie Coyle’s highlight-reel equalizer.
“Just a terrific regular season,” Jim Montgomery said to NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins closed out their historic regular season with another come-from-behind victory.
A meaningless contest produced defensive miscues
All season long, the Bruins held to the mantra of “staying in the moment.”
That concept fell by the wayside during a meaningless regular-season finale. On each of Montreal’s four goals, Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs seemed all-too-present in the minds of the Bruins.
Of all the defensive miscues, none was more egregious than the gift that was Pezzetta’s tap-in. But given their historic season, the Bruins can get away with a little “looseness” in a game with virtually zero at stake.
“It’s the 82nd game of the year, so it was a little loosey-goosey,” Pastrnak said to NESN’s Sophia Jurkstowicz. “Honestly, for our group, it’s been a long season, and we work hard, so I guess it’s very understandable.”
As one of the most offensively potent teams all year, the Bruins had enough firepower to overcome their defensive mishaps. The Black and Gold put forth one final third-period comeback to close out their historic regular season dominance.
“There’s a bigger goal in mind,” Swayman told the media. “Definitely a feather in our cap for what we’ve accomplished so far, and we’re gonna take that confidence into the playoffs. That’s important because we trust in our abilities; it’s going to get us through games when the going gets tough.”
Bergeron’s absence deemed “precautionary”
For the second straight game, the Bruins aren’t sweating a minor injury to one of their essential cogs.
Similar to Linus Ullmark’s exit on Tuesday, the Bruins took precautionary measures with another one of their ailing players as Bergeron missed the second and third periods in Montreal.
“It was just a precaution,” Montgomery said of Ullmark on Tuesday. “He’s going to be fine.”
Unlike previous seasons where they used an AHL-heavy lineup in the regular season finale, the Bruins surprisingly dressed almost their entire regular lineup.
Bergeron’s injury is likely precautionary, but it calls into question why so many regular players were suiting up in the first place.
With their playoff matchup set, Boston can finally look ahead to the postseason.
The Bruins have known their playoff seeding for quite some time. They just didn’t know who they’d face in the first round until Thursday.
After Carolina’s 6-4 win in Sunrise, the Bruins have their opening-round assignment: the Florida Panthers.
“We’ll probably spend a lot more time in the office,” Montgomery said of the Panthers. “As far as what we give the players, we want to keep it as much as possible the same things we’ve been doing.”
The Bruins have constantly said that their record-filled regular season is irrelevant without the Stanley Cup to top it off. The validity of those records will finally be put to the test, with Game 1 likely taking place Monday night at TD Garden.
“Now the real fun begins,” Montgomery added. “Every day matters, and it’s just an exciting time of year. NHL Playoff hockey. We’re excited to be a part of it.”
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