Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins officially punched their ticket to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs by way of a 7-3 beatdown of the Florida Panthers on Saturday night at the BB&T Center.

“It’s a big win for us,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after the victory. “Every year teams are battling hard for every point to get into the playoffs. It’s a grind. If you don’t play consistently well and play strong throughout the whole year, it’s going to catch up. Then you have to gain some ground at the end. Those are very precious games. It’s nice to be in a position where we have that spot, but at the same time we want to still continue to play well and play hard.”

The Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead just two and a half minutes into the first period behind Noel Acciari’s fifth goal of the season, and were on the right side of what turned out to be a seven-goal middle period, as Boston outscored the Panthers 5-2 in the second frame.

But in case a 6-2 lead through 40 minutes wasn’t enough, Patrice Bergeron came through with the empty-net strike to make this a 7-3 final in favor of the Bruins by the final horn.

“It was a nice continuation of the road trip,” said B’s coach Bruce Cassidy. We’re putting pucks in the net, keeping them out of our net for the most part. Tonight, I looked up and it was 4-1. I think every line had scored, we’re getting some secondary scoring. Something we talked about early in the year, that we’re striving for, and we seemed to hit it here in the last month.

“I think every team would tell you they don’t want to rely on two or three players to score.”

Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in the winning effort for his 20th victory of the season.

With Halak’s win, the Bruins have multiple 20-win goaltenders on their roster for the first time since Reggie Lemelin and Andy Moog accomplished the feat for the Black and Gold in the 1989-90 season.

The Bruins will go to war with the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.