Final: Boston 4, Buffalo 3 (SO)
Recap: After a scoreless, lackluster opening frame, Tyler Seguin opened the scoring at 3:15 of the second period, taking over the team lead with his 28th goal of the season. With 4:15 to go in the middle frame, former Bruin Brad Boyes’ backhanded whack had eyes and found its way past Tim Thomas to make it 1-1.
Boyes struck again at 7:02 of the third to put the Sabres ahead and Jason Pominville’s 30th of the season just 1:44 later made it 3-1. Boston responded quickly, as Seguin cut the lead in half with his second of the night 70 seconds later. With 7:39 to go, Brad Marchand beat Jhonas Enroth on the backhand to make it 3-3.
After a fast-paced overtime that saw the Bruins outshoot the Sabres 5-0, the two teams headed to the shootout. After Enroth stopped David Krejci with a left-pad stop, Thomas stoned Tyler Ennis with his right pad. Seguin then carried his attempt in tight and got denied by the left post. Thomas stoned Boyes’ five-hole attempt, but Bergeron was able to sneak one through Enroth’s wickets. Pominville had a chance to keep things going but Thomas turned his bid aside.
Records: Boston 49-29-4, 102 points; Buffalo 39-33-10, 88 points
Key Play of the Game: A little more than two minutes after Seguin cut the lead in half, Marchand turned in a great effort in front. His first bid to cut past Andrej Sekera failed, but No. 63 reached around the Sabres’ d-man and swatted a backhander past Enroth to knot things up.
Connolly’s Commendations: After getting a well-deserved night off on Thursday when the B’s visited Ottawa, Patrice Bergeron was simply spectacular in the regular-season finale. No. 37 assisted on all three of the B’s goals during regulation and picked up the lone tally of the shootout.
Bergeron’s linemates weren’t too shabby, either. Seguin struck twice to finish the year as the team’s leading goal scorer (29) and point-getter (67), while Marchand also tallied to finish the year with an impressive total of 28 goals and 55 points.
Connolly’s Critiques: You really can’t blame him, but David Krejci definitely dialed it down a few notches in this one. He finished the night minus-2 and wasn’t exactly skating at full speed in most situations.
Notes: Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Robyn Regehr in the first period and tied Rangers forward Brandon Prust for the league lead in fighting majors (20). Bergeron finished the year with 42 assists. The only season he had more was 2006-07 (48).
Final Thoughts: The way this game ended up playing out should prepare the Bruins well for the playoffs. The intensity got ratcheted up as the contest wore on, Boston fought back and got a nice confidence booster in winning the shootout.
Next: The Bruins will now play the wait-and-see game, as they still don’t know whether they’ll play the Capitals or Senators. The series will likely begin on Thursday night at TD Garden.