One more team is in the Big Dance. Thanks to an unlikely NHL record, the Bruins clinched a playoff spot by posting a hard fought 4-2 win over the Hurricanes at TD Garden this afternoon. The two points give them 89 points with one more game tomorrow versus the Caps. They can finish either sixth or seventh pending tonight's Leafs-Habs Hockey Night In Canada clash. Montreal needs at least a point to wrap up a spot.
Claude Julien's club dominated the first half of the game, taking it to a Carolina club playing its final game and looking ready for a Par 4 course. Despite 18 first period shots with many quality chances, the Bruins couldn't solve Cam Ward. Amazingly, a late Matt Hunwick minor for hooking proved pivotal. With 1:42 left on the penalty, Boston did the unthinkable- scoring three consecutive shorthanded goals in a 64-second span to set an NHL record. Daniel Paille got the bizarre sequence started by taking a Zdeno Chara feed and beating Ward down low at 32 seconds. Just 49 ticks later, David Krejci set up Blake Wheeler for No.2. With the crowd in a frenzy including quirky NESN play-by-play man Jack Edwards, Steve Begin set the record when he took a great Dennis Wideman outlet and went five-hole only 15 seconds later.
Never before had that happened. When the Bruins needed it most, they delivered one of the greatest NHL moments, which ultimately sealed the postseason. It still didn't come easy with the pesky Canes chipping away thanks to goals from Erik Cole via backhand wrap and Pat Dwyer less than three minutes apart to cut the margin to one. With time winding down in the crazy second, they came close to tying it. It would be a sign of things to come. An even nuttier play took place which could've cost Boston in the third. After failing on one power play, a delayed call for a second saw them accidentally miss a shot wide. The puck caromed off the boards past everyone headed to the vacant net. Yes. It looked like they were screwed. However, their heart and soul Patrice Bergeron made a great hustle play skating hard to just get his stick on it to sweep it away at the last second. An outstanding play by a guy who always gives the effort. Following a brief review which confirmed miraculous save, he got a great reception. It's players like Bergeron and Krejci that have stepped up minus offensive leader Marc Savard, who is expected to miss the first round.
With the B's sitting back, the Canes didn't go away outshooting them 8-5. They forced rookie Tuukka Rask to make a couple of tricky saves. Overall, the outstanding 23 year-old Finn they stole from the Leafs for
For Boston, they can breathe easier and watch the Canadiens tonight and Flyers and Rangers following their game to see who winds up heart broken. They earned it.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Tuukka Rask, Bos (33 saves for 22nd win)
2nd Star-Cam Ward, Car (38 saves incl. 33/36 first 2 periods)
1st Star-Daniele Paille-Blake Wheeler-Steve Begin, Bos (NHL record 3 SHG in 64 seconds)
UPDATED EASTERN PLAYOFF STANDINGS
+1.Caps 120 Pts
*2.Devils 99 Pts
&3.Sabres 98 Pts
*4.Pens 99 Pts
*5.Sens 94 Pts
*6.Bruins 89 Pts
7.Habs 87 Pts
8.Flyers 86 Pts
9.Rangers 86 Pts