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Boston Bruins Officially Clinch Playoff Spot With Pens Victory

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The Boston Bruins wanted to clinch a Stanley Cup playoff spot in winning fashion and that’s exactly what they did on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins scored a pair of goals in the first period and then parlayed strong defense, a good penalty kill and some excellent goaltending from rookie Jeremy Swayman (23 saves) to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

Obviously, the top eight teams in the East have known they would be the playoff octet in the Eastern Conference for quite some time given the wide gap in point totals among the haves and have nots.

But it’s still a moment to be acknowledged when a team does mathematically clinch their playoff spot as the Boston Bruins have now done in 13 of their last 15 seasons.

Trent Frederic and Erik Haula added the early offense, and the Boston Bruins played a good two-way game after much more in vein with the winning habits they formed during a strong month of March. Appropriately, it was a big blocked shot for Patrice Bergeron on a Kris Letang bomb from the high point in the closing seconds that secured the victory, and showed that the Boston Bruins captain was willing to pay the price for the postseason-clinching victory.

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“This is a special year. Building off of last year we lost some key people, [David Krejci] and stuff, so it’s just great to have this new group of guys and the leadership we have, and all this camaraderie we have,” said Boston Bruins rookie Jeremy Swayman to NESN following the victory while playing in place of the injured Linus Ullmark. “It’s been such a fun year and we’re so excited for the playoffs.”

It certainly hasn’t been easy for the Black and Gold as they had lost three straight in regulation to prolong the waiting for the clinched playoff spot that officially leaves the Washington Capitals as the only Eastern Conference team yet to clinch a postseason berth. The Boston Bruins have dropped back into a wild card spot thanks to the three-game slide, but now have seven games remaining to determine their final seeding for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If the season ended on Saturday, it would be the Carolina Hurricanes as the first-round opponent for the Boston Bruins even as both the Canes and New York Rangers are fighting it out for the top spot in the Metro Division.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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