Marc Savard may not be back this season, but the Boston Bruins are determined to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs with or without him.
David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi all provided a goal and an assist and Tim Thomas stopped 31 shots for his fifth shutout of the season as the Bruins beat the Calgary Flames 5-0 on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, strengthening their hold on an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
Dennis Seidenberg also scored for Boston, which moved into seventh place in the East. Boston and Philadelphia both have 80 points, but the Bruins hold the first tiebreaker by virtue of having played one fewer game than the Flyers. Both teams are two points ahead of the ninth-place Thrashers, who won 4-0 at Carolina on Saturday night.
"I thought we played a real solid game tonight, not necessarily because of the score but more the way we played the 60 minutes and special teams, both penalty kill and power play, were really good today for us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "The power play really gave us a good cushion there and then our 5-on-5 play was pretty good as well."
Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff was chased 5:51 into the third after Recchi scored his 17th goal of the season and the 562nd of his career, second among active players only to Teemu Selanne. Kiprusoff turned aside 24 shots before being replaced by Vesa Toskala.
Calgary saw its postseason hopes continue to dwindle, remaining six points behind Colorado, which is eighth in the Western Conference. The Flames are back in action Sunday afternoon in Washington.
"We have to run the table now," captain Jarome Iginla said. "Other teams have done it in the past, run the table near the end. We need to put together five or six wins. It's literally all Game 7s for us now."
Savard, who suffered a Grade 2 concussion as the result of a blind-side check from Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke on March 7, held a press conference prior to the game Saturday, during which he said he continues to experience post-concussion symptoms, including sensitivity to light.
"I think it's big for him to come down and see us," goalie Tuukka Rask said. "You know, get the energy from us. I think it was hard for him to stay home and not talk to anybody because we were on the road for a while there. It's good to have him back and hopefully we can help him to get through this."
While it seems doubtful at the moment that Savard will be back this season, the Bruins took a big step toward making the playoffs by dismantling the fading Flames. The power play was a major reason for their success.
Seidenberg had the only goal of the first period, striking at 14:08 after a holding penalty to Chris Conroy.
Boston stretched its lead to 3-0 after 40 minutes thanks to two more goals on the man advantage. Conroy was in the box again for hooking when Krejci scored at 1:29 of the second, then Chara beat Kiprusoff at 6:15 following a goalie interference call on Rene Bourque.
The Bruins finished 3-for-4 on the power play with eight shots. It was the first time they connected for three power-play goals since Dec. 23.
"I think we were 0-for-22 and we changed it up a little bit and it paid off," Krejci said. "Even when we didn't score today we had some good quality chances."
Bergeron and Recchi tallied 1:27 apart in the third to bring an end to Kiprusoff's day.
Thomas, who won the Vezina Trophy last season but has watched as Rask received the majority of the playing time of late, was flawless and helped the team withstand a five-minute power play Calgary received later in the period after an elbowing major and game misconduct to Johnny Boychuk.
"I didn't really know what to expect but the team came out so strong in front of me and did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and that helped a lot," said Thomas, who was lauded by Julien for his "mental toughness" for coming back strong after being on the bench.
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.