BOSTON (AP) — David Pastrnak scored twice, Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots and the Boston Bruins clinched their first playoff berth since 2014 with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Drew Stafford and Zdeno Chara also scored for the Bruins, who extended their season-high winning streak to six games. More importantly, by winning in regulation, Boston guaranteed a return to the postseason after missing out the last two years.
Boston fans celebrated by cheering throughout the final two minutes. After the final horn, the Bruins swarmed Rask following his career-best eighth shutout of the season.
Rask faced only four shots in the first period but was ready when the Lightning generated pressure after that.
Andrei Vasilevskiy kept Tampa Bay close with 34 saves.
Stafford was the first to beat him, backhanding in a rebound 5:56 into the second period. Pastrnak made it 2-0 on a one-timer with 3:54 left in the second and added another goal into an empty net with 1:02 remaining in the third off a pass from David Krejci, who had two assists.
The Bruins haven’t lost since the Lightning’s 6-3 victory in Boston on March 23.
The loss didn’t knock the Lightning out of playoff contention, but Tampa Bay fell dangerously close with just three games remaining.
It might have been a costly victory for the Bruins, who played the last two periods without leading scorer Brad Marchand after he speared Tampa Bay’s Jake Dotchin in front of the Lightning net. Marchand received a five-minute major and game misconduct (on his bobblehead night), which could keep him off the ice longer once the NHL takes a look at the video.
Marchand has been suspended six times in his career and was fined the maximum $10,000 by the league earlier this season for a questionable hit.
NOTES: Marchand has a career-high 39 goals and is trying to become Boston’s first 40-goal scorer since Glen Murray had 44 in 2002-03. … Lightning C Steven Stamkos (right knee surgery) missed his 62nd straight game, but said he could still return this week if the club needs him and he’s ready. “As long as we’re still in the mix, I consider it worth it,” Stamkos said. … Tampa Bay C Gabriel Dumont was not with the club after leaving to be with his pregnant wife. Dumont’s absence combined with a string of injuries this season left Tampa Bay playing a man short Tuesday. … Marchand is Boston’s first player with back-to-back 30-goal seasons since Glen Murray in 2004.
Lightning: At the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in the second of three straight on the road.
Bruins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday in Boston’s second-to-last game of the regular season.
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