BOSTON (AP) — If the Boston Bruins are going to make the playoffs for the first time in three season, the formula is simple.
“You’ve got to keep winning. If we keep doing this we don’t have to look at the standings and look for help elsewhere,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said after they beat the Florida Panthers 5-2 on Saturday.
David Krejci scored after a poor clearing attempt by Florida goaltender Reto Berra, helping them maintain an edge for a playoff spot heading into the final week of the regular season.
“I guess we were due one in this particularly game,” Boston interim coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You make your own breaks. I heard a few of our players saying it on the bench. We’ve often said that.”
Patrice Bergeron scored twice, Brad Marchand got his team-leading 39th goal and Noel Acciari also scored for the Bruins, who trail both Toronto and Ottawa by a point in the Atlantic Division, but hold a four-point edge over Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.
Jaromir Jagr recorded his 765th career goal and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Panthers, who lost for the 11th time in 15 games and were eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week.
Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe has seen a pattern of mistakes leading to goals often.
“That’s just something we’ve got to continually talk about, fix and hopefully it comes with a young team,” he said. “They want to make plays in areas that sometimes you don’t think should be made.”
Krejci capitalized on the gaffe by Berra, moving Boston ahead 3-2 with 5:30 left in the second period. The goalie came far out of the crease, but his clearing pass from the right circle caromed off the boards directly to Krejci, who fired the puck into the empty net.
Tuukka Rask, coming off a career-tying high seventh shutout this season in his last start, stopped 24 shots.
Marchand sealed it with a power-play score in the final two minutes. Bergeron added an empty-netter.
The Bruins had moved ahead 2-1 on Bergeron’s reviewed goal midway into the second. The center scored off the rebound of Zdeno Chara’s one-timer while Marchand was inside the crease. The goal stood even though it appeared Berra couldn’t get across the crease on the shot with Marchand there.
Florida tied it 2-all on Jagr’s goal. The 45-year-old forward beat Rask over his glove with a wrist shot from the slot.
Acciari stole the puck from defenseman Jakub Kindl, broke in while he was being hooked by Kindl for a delayed penalty and took a wrister that slipped into the net off Berra to make it 1-0.
Florida tied it early into the second when Nick Bjugstad’s shot from the point caromed in off the leg of Vanek.
NOTES: Cassidy said backup Anton Khudobin would start Sunday. . Florida defenseman Keith Yandle played his 629th consecutive game, moving one behind Andy Hebenton for eighth on the NHL’s all-time list. . Boston forward Frank Vatrano missed his second straight with an undisclosed upper body injury. . Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen turned 34-years old on Saturday, and teammate Reilly Smith 26. … Interesting hit: Forty-year-old Chara kocked down Jagr. . Panthers forward Shawn Thornton, a member of Boston’s 2011 Cup winning team, played his last game in TD Garden. He’s retiring after the season and has a job waiting for him in Florida’s front office. He was given the game’s Third Star. “That’s probably the closest I’ve been to chocking up in a bit,” he said of an ovation after the game. “I appreciate that.”
Panthers: Face Montreal on Monday to open a three-game homestand.
Bruins: At Chicago on Sunday for a nationally televised game that’s slated to start at 11:30 a.m. CST before they play their final three regular-season games at home.
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