Despite it being fan appreciation night at the TD Garden, a tradition that sees every member of the Boston Bruins literally give the shirt off their back to a lucky fan, Saturday’s game meant nothing in the way of standings. The teams bound for the Eastern Conference playoffs had already been decided. The Boston Bruins would be the number 2 seed in the East and couldn’t advance any higher or slip to a lower position. The Buffalo Sabres, whom many thought would win the Northeast Division, found themselves on the outside looking in, just barely missing the 8th and final playoff spot. But every hockey player knows that you play every game, whether it is the first preseason game or Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, with heart, determination and most importantly, pride.
Before the game Coach Claude Julien was asked if Tim Thomas would play the whole game, to which he replied, “Yeah, this isn’t training camp.”
It was evident from the start that the Bruins were looking for that extra confidence that a win right before the playoffs can give a team. The Sabres on the other hand, were looking to end their disappointing season with a victory. Getting the nod in net for the final game of the regular season for the Sabres was Jhonas Enroth, who had appeared in 25 games this year and had an 8-11-3 record. Coming as no surprise to anyone, Thomas, who was appearing in his 59th game of the season, would be in the crease for the Bruins.
The first period began with a lot of back and forth action between the two clubs, giving those in attendance lots to “ooh and ahh” about, but both goalies were up to the task and determined not to budge. The Garden erupted at the 12:38 minute mark as Buffalo’s Robyn Regehr and Boston’s resident tough guy, Shawn Thornton squared off to the right of Enroth. Thornton got the easy decision as he took Regehr down with an overhand right. The first period would end with both teams going to the locker rooms scoreless.
The second period started off much like the first with rushes by both teams only this time Boston would capitalize on one of their rushes. Tyler Seguin, who began the day as Boston’s leading scorer, would collect a pass from Patrice Bergeron and deflect it past Enroth for his 28th goal of the season, just 3:15 into the second. With that goal, Seguin’s 66th point of the season, he would become the youngest player in team history to win the Bruins’ scoring race, a record previously held by his current line mate, Bergeron, who set the record back in the 2005-06 season. Former Bruins forward Brad Boyes would notch the game up at 1-1 when he beat Thomas at the 15:45 mark of the second. Rich Peverley had a shorthanded breakaway as the period was coming to an end but Enroth denied the Bruins the go ahead goal. The two teams would end the second period tied at 1-1.
Brad Marchand started the third period with a breakaway but Enroth turned his backhanded attempt away. Both teams came out firing in the third trying to get the go ahead goal but bot Thomas and Enroth came up huge in net. Once again Boyes would beat Thomas on a rebound at 7:02 to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead. Feeding off the momentum of Boyes’ efforts, Buffalo would jump to a 3-1 lead when Jason Pominville found the back of the net only 1:44 after Boyes. Not to be outdone by Boyes, Seguin scored his second goal of the game cutting the Bruins deficit to one. The Bruins seemed to get a second wind after Seguin’s goal and they continued to attack the Sabres’ net. The effort would pay off as Marchand would score the tying goal at 12:21. As if wanting to give their fans just a little more regular season hockey to enjoy on fan appreciation night, the Bruins would head to overtime tied at 3-3.
Adding to the excitement of the day the teams would remain scoreless after the five minute overtime period resulting in a shoot out. Patrice Bergeron would score the lone shoot out goal to give the Bruins a 4-3 victory over the Sabres.
When asked how important it is to enter the playoffs on a winning streak Seguin responded, “Yeah it’s important. Really the last solid five games is where you want to stay consistent.” He later added, “Obviously, the intensity is a little hard to get up for these types of games but it was nice for us, in the third period to show character, like we may have to do down the road in the playoffs.”
The schedule for the NHL playoffs will be released on Sunday, April 8th, at 1p.m.