For the fifth straight season, the Boston Bruins will be among the group of 16 vying for the Stanley Cup, as a 3-0 win in New Jersey has officially clinched the Bruins a top-four spot in the East Division.
Held off the board despite a ridiculous 17-shot opening period, the Bruins got three goals over the final 40 minutes of action, with strikes from Nick Ritchie, Patrice Bergeron, and Matt Grzelcyk, to earn the victory on Prudential Center ice.
Nick Ritchie blasts one home. Nice feed from Zboril.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 4, 2021
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/UUijZzGulC
Ritchie’s game-breaking tally, scored at the 9:09 mark of the second period, continued what’s been a strong mini-run for the Bruins’ new-look third line with Ritchie to the left of Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle, and gave Ritchie his 14th tally of the year. That actually ties a career-high for the 6-foot-2, 230-pound wing, who scored 14 with the Ducks in 2016-17.
Bergeron’s goal, meanwhile, gave the Boston captain his eighth straight 20-goal season, and his 12th overall.
The goals were an overdue reward for a Boston attack that simply jumped all over the Devils for the full 60, as they hammered the Devils’ Scott Wedgewood for 42 shots by the night’s end, all while N.J. at bay at the other end throughout the night.
That made it a relatively easy night for Tuukka Rask, who stopped all 20 shots faced for his second shutout of the 2021 season. Rask also improved to 6-0-0 with a .943 save percentage since returning from his back injury last month.
With a playoff berth officially clinched, the Bruins will compete in an East bracket that’ll also feature the Islanders, Penguins, and Capitals competing alongside the Black and Gold. But it’s currently unclear who the Bruins will play in round one, as all four teams can still jockey for seeding over the final week of the 2021 regular season.
It also means that the Bruins have clinched a postseason berth in all five of Bruce Cassidy’s season behind the bench.
The Bruins will stay in Jersey and conclude their regular season series with the Devils on Tuesday night.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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.