Bruins finish regular season, await playoff opponent
Friday, 04.06.2012 / 5:51 PM
NHL.comSABRES (39-32-10) at BRUINS (48-29-4)
TV: MSG-Buffalo (HD), NESN (HD)
Buffalo 6-3-1; Boston 7-2-1
Sixth and final meeting between these Northeast Division rivals. The Bruins have won three of five, including both matchups at TD Garden. Tyler Seguin leads all scorers with 3 goals and 6 points.
The defending Stanley Cup champions are gearing up for the first round and could find out before their game ends who their opponent will be. If the Senators win or get even a point against the Devils in a game that starts an hour before this one, the second-seeded Bruins will host them to start the playoffs. If the Senators lose in regulation, the Capitals could move up to the No. 7 seed with a win Saturday night over the Rangers in New York.
For the second consecutive season Buffalo made a furious run down the stretch, but this time it wasn't enough. The Sabres were 20 minutes away from making this game mean something when they took a 1-0 lead into the third period Thursday night in Philadelphia. Ex-Flyer Ville Leino
scored with 2:34 left in the second and Ryan Miller
was working on a shutout, but he yielded the tying goal six minutes into the third and then Matt Read converted on a breakaway with 4:21 left as the Flyers dealt the Sabres a 2-1 loss that eliminated them from playoff contention.
"It's not a good thing," Leino said. "It's not a fun time right now. It's kind of really disappointing right now to end the season so early."
If its first playoff opponent does happen to be Ottawa, then Boston should be a confident group. The Bruins made it five wins in six tries against the Senators this season with a 3-1 triumph on Thursday at Scotiabank Place. Having locked up the No. 2 seed a few games back, the Bruins rested veteran Tim Thomas once again and gave Anton Khudobin his first start of the season. The possible backup to Thomas in the playoffs if Tuukka Rask isn't ready to return from injury, Khudobin was stellar in making 44 saves. Greg Zanon's first goal with Boston, scored early in the second, turned out to be the game-winner.
"I thought he played phenomenal," Seguin said of Khudobin, who had six previous games of NHL experience with Minnesota. "Early in the game he was great and made some big saves and he played a solid 60 minutes."
Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot each have goals in consecutive games for the Bruins. David Krejci has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last six games.
Buffalo defensemen Christian Ehrhoff
(knee) and Tyler Myers
(foot) were expected to miss this game even if the team was still in contention. Forward Matt Ellis
(knee) is also out. ... Rask has been sidelined since early March for Boston with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk is day-to-day with a sprained knee. Forward Nathan Horton remains out with a concussion.
The Sabres had gone 20-7-5 prior to Thursday's loss to rise from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and temporarily into eighth after a March 27 win over the Capitals. ... Bruins rookie defenseman Torey Krug assisted on Lucic's third-period goal against the Senators for his first NHL point. It was his second game.
It would seem likely Boston goes back to Thomas for this game just to keep him sharp; otherwise he'll have had nine or 10 days off by the time Game 1 of the first round rolls around. And in a meaningless game for Buffalo, expect a start for rookie Jhonas Enroth
, who has made just two appearances since mid-January.