Patrice Bergeron scored a hat trick in a, 5-0, victory for the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres as Linus Ullmark recorded his first shutout with the Bruins against his former team.
Bergeron’s trio of goals earned him his 398th, 399th and 400th career tallies in his 1,216th career National Hockey League game– becoming just the fourth player in Bruins franchise history to score 400 goals with the club, while trailing Rick Middleton (402) for third overall.
Ullmark (26-10-2, 2.45 goals-against average, .917 save percentage in 41 games played) finished his regular season campaign with his first shutout of the year in a 37-save effort for his fourth career shutout win overall.
He set a career-best 2.45 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in the most games he’s played as a starter in the first season of his four-year, $20 million contract that he signed with Boston on July 28, 2021, with the future of Tuukka Rask then uncertain in the wake of major surgery and Jeremy Swayman as a young goaltender of the future– still a few years away from taking the full-time reins in the crease.
Though technically you could say both Ullmark and Swayman were the starting goaltenders for Boston all season long as they’ll split the 82-game season in half– 41 appearances each– in their 2021-22 workload.
Even as Rask made a midseason comeback attempt before retiring in February due to his hip not being up to par.
Swayman is expected to get the start Friday night in Toronto as the B’s take on the Maple Leafs in their 2021-22 regular season finale.
With the win on Thursday night, Boston improved to 51-25-5 (107 points) on the season and remained in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division– one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for 3rd place in the Atlantic.
Tampa needs to win in any fashion to secure a First Round matchup with Toronto, while Boston needs the Lightning to lose in regulation and at least get one point against the Maple Leafs to surpass the Bolts in the division and face the Leafs in the First Round.
If the Bruins and Lightning tie in points, Boston holds the tiebreaker on regulation wins.
Otherwise, if Boston ends up losing Friday night and Tampa gets a point in any fashion, the B’s will face the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2022 First Round.
If you’re confused just watch the game and/or wait for Friday night’s recap. You’ll know by then.
Dustin Tokarski (9-12-3, 3.32 goals-against average, .899 save percentage in 28 games played) made 27 saves on 32 shots against in the loss for Buffalo.
The Sabres fell to 31-39-11 (73 points) overall and remain in command of 5th place in the Atlantic Division.
For the first time since the 2019-20 regular season, Boston swept Buffalo in their regular season series, 4-0-0.
The Bruins went 7-1-0 against the Sabres last season and 3-0-0 against Buffalo in 2019-20.
Boston finished the 2021-22 regular season with a 26-13-2 record on home ice overall.
The B’s were without Jakub Zboril (right ACL) and Jesper Frödén (lower body) on Thursday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no changes to his lineup.
As a result, Mike Reilly, Marc McLaughlin, Josh Brown and Anton Blidh served as healthy scratches for the Bruins against the Sabres.
Prior to puck drop, NESN presented its annual 7th Player Award as voted on by the fans to this year’s recipient– Jeremy Swayman.
Swayman has gone 23-13-3 in 40 games this season with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage as part of Boston’s tandem goaltending apparatus for 2021-22.
Henri Jokiharju tripped Jake DeBrusk and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 1:26 of the first period, but the B’s fell to 0-for-37 on the skater advantage in their last 13 games instead as the Sabres managed to kill off Jokiharju’s infraction.
Late in the period, Trent Frederic cut a rut to the sin bin for catching Alex Tuch with a slash at 16:41, but Buffalo wasn’t able to convert on the ensuing advantage.
Less than a few minutes later, Brad Marchand rattled off four hacks with his stick before the fifth slash resulting in a minor penalty at 19:30.
Boston managed to kill Marchand’s infraction despite Buffalo’s power play spewing over into the middle frame.
After one period, the B’s and Sabres were tied, 0-0, on the scoreboard despite Buffalo attaining a, 12-6, advantage in shots on goal.
The Sabres dominated in blocked shots (10-2), takeaways (5-3), giveaways (6-4) and faceoff win percentage (63-38), while the Bruins led in hits (12-5).
Buffalo was 0-for-2 and Boston was 0-for-1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Taylor Hall tripped John Hayden at 2:55 of the second period, yielding another skater advantage to the Sabres that went unconverted.
Moments later, Bergeron (23) gathered a loose puck on the doorstep and buried it in the twine to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead at 6:16 of the second period after DeBrusk fired an initial shot on goal.
Bergeron’s first goal of the game was unassisted, however.
A couple minutes later, Jeff Skinner tripped Erik Haula and made his way to the sin bin at 8:54.
Boston failed to capitalize on the resulting power play, however.
Midway through the middle period, Bergeron (24) scored one of his patented goals from the bumper to extend the lead to two-goals.
This time, DeBrusk (17) and Marchand (47) tallied the assists as the B’s took a, 2-0, lead at 12:29 of the second period.
Sabres coach, Don Granato, challenged the call on the ice, however, on the basis that he believed Nick Foligno had been offiside prior to the goal.
Upon video review, however, Foligno had extended his right leg far enough to break the plane at the blue line in the midst of a line change while Boston entered the attacking zone– thereby remaining onside.
The call on the ice stood as a result and the Sabres were charged with a bench minor for delay of game due to their unsuccessful challenge at 12:29.
Victor Olofsson skated across the rink to serve Buffalo’s infraction, but Boston fell to 0-for-39 on their last 39 power plays as neither team took another penalty nor scored another goal before the second intermission.
Through 40 minutes Thursday night, the Bruins led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, but trailed, 27-20, in shots on goal as the Sabres continued to outshoot Boston– including a, 15-14, advantage for Buffalo in the second period alone.
The Sabres led in blocked shots (13-4), takeaways (8-5), giveaways (13-6) and faceoff win% (53-47), while both teams had 16 hits aside and were 0-for-3 on the power play heading into the final frame.
Then it happened.
Peyton Krebs caught Marchand with a high stick at 1:28 of the third period.
Less than a minute later, Hall setup David Pastrnak (40) for a power-play goal through the five-hole– reaching the 40-goal plateau for the second time in his career in the process.
Oh, also, Boston snapped their drought on the power play in their 40th consecutive opportunity.
Hall (41) and Marchand (48) notched the assists as Pastrnak’s power-play goal put the Bruins up, 3-0, at 2:11 of the third period, but not before Granato challenged the call on the ice on the basis that he believed Hall had gone offside prior to the goal while Marchand dangled the puck at the blue line.
Video review confirmed the call on the ice, however, as Marchand did not drag the puck completely past the blue line back into the neutral zone and Hall remained onside.
The Sabres, as a result, were charged with a four-minute double minor for delay of game due to their second unsuccessful challenge of the night at 2:11.
Shortly after the second consecutive power play began while Olofsson was back in the box serving the bench minor, Hall (20) collected the garbage on the doorstep of the crease off the right leg pad and slipped the puck into the net to give Boston a four-goal lead.
Pastrnak (38) and Bergeron (40) tallied the assists on Hall’s power-play goal and the B’s led, 4-0, at 4:16 of the third period.
With the secondary assists on the goal, Bergeron reached the 40-assist plateau for the fifth time in his 18-year NHL career.
Meanwhile, Hall reached 20 goals or more for the seventh time in his 12 NHL seasons.
Less than a minute later, Tomáš Nosek and Casey Fitzgerald went to the box for roughing and brought the action down from 5-on-5 to 4-on-4 for a couple minutes.
Late in the period, Bergeron (25) scored another bumper goal for his second hat trick of the season (eighth of his career), as well as his 400th career goal.
Charlie McAvoy (46) and Hampus Lindholm (22) had the assists on Bergeron’s third goal of the game and the Bruins took a, 5-0, lead at 17:47 of the third period.
Only four Bruins have ever scored 400 or more goals; Johnny Bucyk (545), Phil Esposito (459), Rick Middleton (402) and now Bergeron (400).
At the final horn, the Bruins won, 5-0, and Ullmark picked up his first shutout of the season, as well as his first shutout with Boston, despite Buffalo outshooting the B’s, 37-32.
The Bruins left their own ice leading in blocked shots (17-4) and faceoff win% (59-41), while the Sabres exited TD Garden leading in giveaways (17-10) and hits (21-19).
Buffalo went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Boston went 2-for-6 on the skater advantage.
The Bruins honored Don DelNegro in his final home game of the regular season. After 29 years working for the organization, DelNegro is retiring from his head athletic trainer role to go hit up the local golf courses some more on his own time.
Bergeron and the rest of the B’s surrounded DelNegro at center ice for a team photo.
In addition to his hat trick, Bergeron also moved ahead of Bucyk for the most career game-opening goals in franchise history Thursday night with his 86th career game-opening goal.
Marchand (795), meanwhile, had two points on the night to surpass Wayne Cashman (793) for sole possession of the seventh-most points in Bruins history.
No. 63 in black and gold trails Bobby Orr (888) by 93 points for sixth overall and is now five points shy of his 800th career NHL point.
The Bruins snapped Buffalo’s four-game winning streak by extending their own win streak to four games and improved to 17-6-2 (8-3-1 at home) when tied after the first period, 37-9-2 (18-5-1 at home) when scoring first and 33-1-3 (16-1-1 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
The Sabres fell to 13-10-3 (5-5-1 on the road) when tied after one, 8-26-6 (3-15-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal and 2-29-2 (2-15-2 on the road) when trailing through the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins visit Toronto on Friday night in their final road game– as well as the final game– of the 2021-22 regular season.
The B’s will face either the Leafs or Hurricanes in the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with Games 1 and 2 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto or PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina depending on the matchup.
Games 3 and 4 will be Boston’s first taste of postseason action on home ice.