Securing two points in Thursday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden would’ve been a huge help to the Boston Bruins in their quest to clinch one of the Atlantic Division playoff berths.
Instead, the B’s only picked up a single point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Sens.
Why is finishing in second or third place in the division so important? Well, the Bruins will play the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs if they drop to the second wild-card spot.
The Caps, with loads of scoring depth, a deep blue line and a goalie in Braden Holtby who owns an 11-2-0 record and .945 save percentage in his career versus Boston, are a horrible matchup for the B’s.
Luckily for the Bruins, there’s still a good chance they will avoid the Caps in Round 1. All they have to do is beat the Capitals in any fashion Saturday afternoon at the Garden.
Even if the Bruins lose to the Capitals in regulation, the Toronto Maple Leafs would need to take three out of a possible four points from their last two games to knock the B’s down to the wild card. Boston holds the ROW tiebreaker over Toronto if the teams tie on points. If the Bruins lose to the Caps in overtime or a shootout and pick up a point, the Leafs would need to win both of their last two games to leapfrog Boston. Any regulation loss for the Leafs also guarantees the B’s one of the division spots.
It’s also possible that the Senators could fall into the wild card and the B’s and Leafs could grab second and third in the Atlantic, but that scenario would require Boston earning at least a point versus Washington and Toronto getting at least three points over its last two games.
The most likely outcome is the Senators and Bruins playing each other in Round 1 and the Leafs taking on the Capitals.
So, even though Thursday’s loss to Ottawa hurt, it wasn’t a disastrous outcome for the Bruins.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Senators.
— Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask played another great game, stopping 25 of 26 shots and helping the B’s go 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. He’s allowed two goals or fewer in five straight starts (including a pair of shutouts), and he’s posted a .970 save percentage over that span. Rask is playing some of his best hockey of the season at the perfect time for the Bruins.
— Boston’s power play struck again in the first period when trade-deadline acquisition Drew Stafford scored on a wraparound. The Bruins now have scored a power-play goal in five straight games.
— David Backes played in his 800th career NHL game Thursday night.
— The Bruins announced during the first period that center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has received immigration approval and is able to play in NHL games. The 2015 second-round draft pick and former Boston University forward was signed to an entry-level contract earlier this week. JFK also warmed up with the Bruins before the game.
— Congrats to David Pastrnak, who, before the game, was named the NESN 7th Player Award winner for the 2016-17 season.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images