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Bruins win to clinch Presidents' Trophy

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have bigger goals they hope to achieve in the next couple months, but Saturday afternoon at TD Garden they checked off their last accomplishment of the regular season.

Bruins center David Krejci scored twice and goaltender Tuukka Rask stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres that clinched the Presidents' Trophy for the second time in franchise history.

Boston (54-18-9), which played its final home game of the regular season, will have home-ice advantage as long as it lasts in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Bruins won the Presidents' Trophy in 1989-90 and have finished first 13 times.

The Bruins, the Atlantic Division champions and top seed in the Eastern Conference, know the road ahead is going to be more difficult than what's in the past. They will face the Detroit Red Wings, the second wild-card finisher in the East, in the first round. The teams have not met in the playoffs since 1957.

"I think that after [Sunday], every team is going to start from zero," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "It's something that we certainly are proud of, if you want to say that. We worked really hard this season and we wanted to play as best we could. And I think we accomplished that.

"But after [Sunday] it's going to go back to square one. No matter what you do in the regular season, you still have to play a certain way to be successful. And you know it's something that you for sure want to follow up on. But you can't be thinking that now you're going to get more room or more respect. It's going to be, I think, even tougher."

Gregory Campbell and Patrice Bergeron, who reached 30 goals for the second time in his career, scored for the Bruins. Bergeron, who scored 31 goals in 2005-06, didn't play in the third period for an undisclosed reason.

"I think we're really proud of what he's accomplished this year," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Bergeron, who has a plus-38 rating. "Thirty goals is quite a feat, and for a guy who excels at both ends of the ice even more so. It takes a heck of a player to be able to score 30 and be so reliable defensively and be as strong at both ends of the ice. That's an incredible player in my mind."

The Sabres (21-51-9) lost their sixth in a row. Goaltender Matt Hackett sustained a leg injury in the third period and was taken from the ice on a stretcher.

Hackett, who stopped 20 of 23 shots, collided with Bruins defenseman Torey Krug at 8:25 of the third. Hackett was replaced by Connor Knapp, who made six saves in his NHL debut. He is the sixth goalie to play for the Sabres this season.

The Sabres also lost forwards Chris Stewart (ankle), Matt D'Agostini (lower body) and Brian Flynn (lower body), and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) to injury.

"I've never seen anything like that," Buffalo forward Drew Stafford said. "You know to go through that on the bench that's quite a bit of a challenge; just add it to the list this year. I mean we don't want to use any excuses at all for what's going on, but I don't know if that's our ninth goalie or whatever it is, and we are playing basically with two lines for the last half the period."

The Bruins lost their prior two games in shootouts and managed to prevent their first three-game losing streak of the season.

Campbell opened the scoring at 16:54 with an aggressive drive to the net. Jordan Caron drew two defenders to him on the left wall and fed a pass to the front, where Campbell tipped the puck past Hackett for a 1-0 lead.

The Bruins took a 2-0 lead on a goal by Krejci at 18:23. He backhanded a shot past Hackett after a Chara shot rebounded off the end glass and landed out front.

Boston went ahead 3-0 at 11:43 of the second period. Bergeron and Brad Marchand cycled the puck around the right circle. Bergeron completed the play with a one-timer from above the right dot that beat Hackett high to the glove side.

Cody Hodgson scored for the Sabres at 13:58. Mike Weber won a battle along the right wall and fed Hodgson in front for a backhand that beat Rask high.

Krejci's second goal, his 19th of the season, came on a power play at 10:35 of the third period.

"[The Presidents' Trophy] is a nice achievement, that's for sure, but that wasn't our goal going into the season," Krejci said. "So one thing that's good about it is as long as we're in the playoffs we'll be starting at home, so that's good. But we're trying to accomplish something different, so we have one more game [Sunday]. We need to play a really strong game and feel good about our game going into the playoffs."

The Bruins play at the New Jersey Devils on Sunday; the Sabres host the New York Islanders.

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