April 7, 2012

Season finale good preparation for playoff-bound Bruins

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON – In their final tune-up before the postseason gets underway, the Bruins walked away from their 4-3 victory over the Sabres feeling like the tilt prepared them well for what lies ahead in the playoffs. 

Patrice Bergeron scored the lone goal in the shootout – an element absent from postseason play, of course – to nail down the win, but the manner in which the B’s reached that point was certainly a good way for Boston to get in the habit of upping their game.

After heading into the third period tied 1-1, Boston coughed up two goals to fall behind 3-1. With nothing left to play for in Game 82 of the regular season, the B’s could’ve easily mailed it in for the remaining 11:14 of regulation. Instead, they responded instantaneously.

Tyler Seguin cut the lead in half 70 seconds after Jason Pominville put Buffalo up by two and, just 2:25 after Seguin’s strike, Brad Marchand buried the tying tally with 7:39 to play.

We wanted to finish on a good note,” said Marchand, who finished the season with 28 goals. “We had a tough start, digging out by a couple goals, but we showed the character that we need going into the playoffs. We battled back, and that’s what you have to do if you want to win games. We’re proud of what we accomplished tonight.”

The win capped off a 12-game stretch to close out the campaign in which Boston won nine contests.

“I think we just kind of regrouped, and talked as a team and realized we had to be better,” Marchand said of the team’s late-season turnaround. “Even being in the playoffs was in jeopardy. So we did a great job of bouncing back from that little slump we were in, and started playing great hockey.”

Tim Thomas, who got a well-deserved breather in not dressing for the B’s last two tilts, appreciated the wide array of scenarios he got to play in on Saturday.

“It wasn’t hard to get up (for the game),” Thomas said. “I could tell the way it started off in the first period and a half.  It was one of those games that could be a sleeper all night or it was just going to turn into what happened. I was ready for that and got to practice getting behind, then some tight game (play), then some overtime right before the playoffs.”

While the season always seems to feel like it flew by, it’s been a long 82-game grind to get to this point. The Bruins are proud that their efforts throughout the year put them in the position they find themselves in now.

“Well, I think this is definitely what everyone has been waiting for, to get back to,” Winger Milan Lucic said. “I think for tonight and for now, we can just reflect and kind of enjoy what we accomplished here in the season and as long as it seemed at times, it feels like yesterday that we just won. So, it kind of went by real quick so obviously we did a great job at getting ourselves back in a position where we get that home ice advantage in the first round. I think everyone in this dressing room should be proud of what we accomplished in the season.”

Given the resolve they showed on Saturday and their late-season resurgence, the Bruins seem poised to have a postseason they’ll be proud of, too.