Patrice Bergeron scored three times, reaching 400 goals in his NHL career. David Pastrnak tallied his 40th of the season, snapping Boston’s 0-for-39 power-play slump. And Linus Ullmark recorded his first shutout as a Bruin.
”It’s a pretty happy room in there. Even Frank Sinatra playing, if you can believe that,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after his team beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-0 on Thursday night. ”A lot of positives.”
Bergeron recorded his eighth career hat trick, and Pastrnak scored Boston’s first power-play goal in almost four weeks as the Bruins finished off the regular season at home. Ullmark made 37 saves against his former team for his first shutout of the season as he tries to win the job as No. 1 goaltender for the playoffs.
”I’m focused for what’s to come,” said the goalie, who shared the traditional postgame hug with rookie Jeremy Swayman as the fans cheered. ”Regular season doesn’t mean anything. We’re heading into the playoffs.”
It was already 4-0 when Bergeron gathered in a pass from Charlie McAvoy in the center and wristed it into the net with 2:13 remaining. Hats came flying over the glass, and the Bruins hugged their captain, jumping up and down on their skates.
It was the 100th hat trick in the NHL this season. Bergeron is the fourth Bruin to score 400 goals, joining Johnny Bucyk (545), Phil Esposito (459) and Rick Middleton (402).
”It is special, and one of the things that is special is that I scored, it’s been a great ride with one organization. It’s something that doesn’t happen often. I’m proud of that,” Bergeron said. ”To share that with them and for them to have that reaction was great, was special and it was very much appreciated.”
Bergeron and Mark Messier are the only players to complete a hat trick with their 400th goal, according to STATS.
Dustin Tokarski stopped 27 shots for the Sabres, who will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season.
The Bruins failed to convert on their first three power plays Thursday, making it 39 in a row since April 2 after Pastrnak dinged the upper corner in the second period. Then they scored on two straight, with Pastrnak hitting the 40-goal mark for the second time; only Phil Esposito (7), Rick Middleton (5), Cam Neely (4) and Ken Hodge (3) have more 40-goal seasons with the Bruins.
Taylor Hall made it it 4-0 after the delay-of-game penalty assessed on the Sabres for unsuccessfully challenging Pastrnak’s goal.
”We didn’t need the goals, but we don’t need to be talking about it forever, so it’s good to get ’em,” Cassidy said. ”You could sense it was happening. So it was going to come sooner or later.”
After a scoreless first period, the Bruins broke through six minutes into the second following a flurry in front of the net that ended with the puck landing in front of Bergeron in the slot. With Tokarski on his backside and out of position, the Bruins captain easily poked the puck into the net.
Bergeron made it 2-0 six minutes later after Jake DeBrusk dug out the puck behind the net and slid it into the slot. The Sabres challenged, saying that Boston had gone offside long before the goal; the play was upheld.
The Bruins again failed to score on the ensuing power play. Pastrnak ended the slump two minutes into the third period when he cleaned up the rebound of Hall’s shot. Hall made it 4-0 two minutes later when Tokarski left another rebound in front.
Goalie Jeremy Swayman won the Bruins 7th Player Award, which was presented before the game.
Swayman, 23, has a 20-11-3 record while posting a 2.34 goals against average this season while competing for the No. 1 job with Ullmark. He leads all rookies GAA, save percentage (.915), wins and shutouts (3).
Ullmark, who went 25-10-2 with a 2.51 GAA, appears to have earned the start – at least in the playoff opener. It would be his postseason debut; Swayman appeared in one game in relief of Tuukka Rask last year.
Cassidy said earlier Thursday that he wasn’t against using both.
”It’s going to be a decision in the moment, I guess, is the easiest way to say it,” he said. ”It could go one way or the other, to be perfectly honest.”
The Bruins said goodbye to head athletic trainer Don DelNegro, who is retiring after 29 years with the team. There was a compilation of good luck videos shown on the scoreboard, and another video showed the players presenting him with a golf cart as a retirement gift.
After the game, the team posed for a picture with DelNegro at center ice and then he walked through the players to the bench. In the locker room after, the team sent him off with Frank Sinatra’s ”My Way.”
Sabres: Host the Blackhawks on Friday night in their 2022-23 finale.
Bruins: Finish the regular season in Toronto on Friday night.
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