BOSTON - The Bruins did not wish to talk pregame about their potential to make the playoffs.
They were zeroed in on the task at hand: winning a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did not want to get ahead of themselves.
"It's about playing the right way and not getting too far ahead of ourselves," Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy had said pregame. "We want to have a good first period, that's our focus."
"At the end of the night, if it goes our way, then we'll address that," said Cassidy.
When the buzzer sounded on a 4-0 victory over the Bolts on Tuesday night at TD Garden, it was official: the Bruins were locked in to the 2017 postseason.
The win in regulation clinched their berth. They are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
David Pastrnak notched an empty-netter with 1:02 to go to give the Bruins a demonstrative 4-0 lead.
Zdeno Chara fired in his 10th goal of the season to make it 3-0 with 10:48 left in the third, with the Bruins taking advantage of a power play opportunity.
Pastrnak had put the team up 2-0 in the second period with a 4-on-4 tally, set up by a slick pass from Riley Nash and a solid zone entry from Kevan Miller.
Drew Stafford was the one to get the Bruins on the board, at 5:56 in the second to break the scoreless tie. After an Adam McQuaid shot from the high slot was blocked down, Stafford picked up the loose puck and backhanded it top shelf on Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Tuukka Rask made 28 saves for his eighth shutout of the season (marking a career season high) and the 38th shutout of his career.
The Bruins special teams were perfect, scoring on their lone power play of the night, and killing off a five-minute major that was assessed to Brad Marchand for spearing in the final minute of the first period.
Stafford's goal to get Boston on the board came less than two minutes after the big penalty kill.
The Bruins celebrated on the ice after the win, and the Captain gave a "thank you" message to the fans.
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