Bruins fall to Sabres in shootout but clinch playoff spot
It will be a footnote for many reasons, but let the record show that the Bruins did clinch a playoff spot (for the sixth straight season) by virtue of their 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The ending wasn’t what Boston (26-11-5) had in mind, especially since it allowed the tying goal to Buffalo’s (19-19-6) Cody Hodgson with 27 seconds left. Plus, the B’s had a chance to take over first place in the Northeast Division with Montreal’s 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh. but they had to settle for the same amount of points albeit with a game in hand.
This season, the Bruins have made a habit of blowing third period leads but in this case, they actually played well and probably deserved two points if not for Ryan Miller (41 saves). Boston outshot Buffalo in every period but only Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly were able to beat him. Paille scored at 5:45 of the first period, assisted by Kelly. The Sabres tied it at 18:20 on Thomas Vanek’s tip-in, their first of two power play goals.
Kelly’s determination resulted in his goal, at 14:48 of the second period after he followed his own rebound. Cody Hodgson tipped in Vanek’s pass to tie it, Anton Khudobin (30 saves) didn’t have a chance to stop it with Buffalo skating 6-on-4 after a delay of game penalty by Andrew Ference and they pulled Miller for the extra skater.
The top team in the Eastern Conference – the Penguins – pay a visit to Boston on Friday (7 p.m., NESN). Pittsburgh beat Boston twice in March at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Bruins are winless (0-2-1) in their last three games while the Penguins have won five in a row.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate