BOSTON — The Bruins fell flat on their faces Saturday afternoon in their final game of the 2015-16 regular season, surrendering four second-period goals en route to a 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden.
The loss allowed the Detroit Red Wings to clinch the Atlantic Division’s third and final playoff spot despite falling to the New York Rangers on Saturday.
Boston’s only hope of a postseason berth now is as the Eastern Conference’s second wild card. To secure that spot, the Bruins would need the Philadelphia Flyers to lose each of their two remaining games (and have at least one of those losses come in regulation).
Philadelphia plays the Pittsburgh Penguins at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday and the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
An Adam McQuaid pass from behind the Bruins’ net midway through the second period landed directly on the stick of Senators winger Mike Hoffman, who fed the puck in front to a wide-open Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad promptly flipped it past Bruins backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson to score Ottawa’s fourth goal in an eight-plus minute span and put the Sens ahead 4-1.
Boston called a timeout after Zibanejad’s goal and did not allow a shot on goal for the next 17 minutes, but the B’s were unable to solve Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who stopped 39 of the 40 shots he faced.
In a last-gasp effort, Bruins coach Claude Julien called Gustavsson to the bench for an extra attacker with more than nine minutes remaining and the Boston on the power play. That strategy produced only an empty-net goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau, however, sealing the Bruins’ fate.
Another empty-netter by Zack Smith three minutes later closed out the scoring.
NEW MAN IN NET
Usual No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask missed the game because of an illness, forcing the Bruins to start Gustavsson in net for the first time in more than three weeks.
The veteran backup was tested early, facing more shots in the opening frame (17) than the Bruins allowed in three periods Thursday night. He turned aside all 17, however, including denying Hoffman on a breakaway.
For the second time in as many games, David Pastrnak opened the scoring for the Bruins with a breakaway goal.
This time around, Pastrnak gloved a long pass from Brad Marchand, maneuvered around Senators defenseman Ben Harpur and roofed the puck past Hammond to put Boston ahead 1-0 just over five minutes into the first period.
Ottawa challenged the ruling, arguing that Pastrnak had been offside on the play. But after a lengthy review, officials determined the evidence was not conclusive enough to overturn the call. The goal stood.
Max Talbot was credited with the secondary assist, giving the veteran forward his first NHL point since Feb. 9.
Ottawa’s barrage of shots continued into the second period, and it produced a demoralizing string of goals for the visitors.
Chris Neil tied the game at one apiece by hammering a rebound past Gustavsson less than two minutes into the frame, and Smith deflected an Erik Karlsson shot into the net four minutes later give the Senators their first lead of the afternoon.
Next came a goal by Matt Puempel, followed by Zibanejad’s back-breaker.
MILLER DROPS PUEMPEL
Bruins rookie defenseman Colin Miller dropped the gloves for his first NHL fight during the latter half of the third period. He ate a few punches from Puempel before ultimately taking down the Senators winger.
The Bruins can do nothing but watch, as their fate now rests in the Flyers’ hands.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand