Bruins clinch playoff berth, blank Avalanche for 11th straight win
The Boston Bruins became the first NHL team to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And they did it by refusing to get ahead of themselves.
Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg each had a goal, Chad Johnson stopped 31 shots for his third career shutout, and the Bruins beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 on Friday night for their 11th win in a row.
"We don’t really worry about how many we’ve won or who we’re playing in one day or two days," Johnson said. "We just worry about who’s next. That’s sort of where our mindset is. Just staying in the moment, I think, is the biggest key to our success right now."
Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara said clinching a postseason berth won’t alter that mindset.
"We still have to play our hockey, really focusing on the little details going into the playoffs, and not getting satisfied and complacent," he said. "We just still have to push our team to the best, maximum results."
Johnson was at the center of their latest success, which pushed their point total to 101, the 21st time the team has reached the 100-point threshold.
"He made some saves that helped us a lot," Boston defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "I thought he played really well."
Colorado pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov for an extra attacker with five minutes remaining but couldn’t avert its first shoutout of the season. The Avalanche had scored at least once in 80 straight games since their previous shutout last April 6 at Phoenix.
"They slowed us down and they did a good job," Colorado’s Matt Duchene said of Boston. "We hadn’t been shut out all year. Usually, it happens against great teams."
Colorado, which handed Boston its only shutout of the season on Oct. 10, was the last NHL team to be blanked this season.
"I thought our play was very positive," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We had a lot of good chances early on. Except for maybe the first six or seven minutes of the start of the third, I thought we played better than them. Their goalie played really well. He made some great saves."
Johnson turned away a flurry of shots in the final minutes and delivered two key saves in the second period, using his glove to stop Nathan MacKinnon’s shot on a breakaway and stuffing Jan Hejda’s shot from up close with his upper body.
"They had some good chances there in the second, and I just tried to be in position and make the saves when I thought I could," said Johnson, who improved to 10-0-1 in his last 11 starts, a career-best point streak that includes a pair of shutouts.
With the Bruins on the power play, Loui Eriksson passed to Soderberg in the lower right circle for a wrist shot into the upper corner of the net on Varlamov’s stick side. That made it 2-0 at 13:11 of the second period.
Boston also struck in the first. Bergeron slipped through Colorado’s defense, taking a pass from Hamilton in the slot and firing a shot that Varlamov stopped. But the rebound trickled out, and Bergeron knocked the loose puck back into the net at 5:12.
"He made a good play to go to the net. I just put it in to him," Hamilton said. "He hit him right in the chest and he had a good finish off of that. I was pretty happy to have that there."
NOTES: The Bruins’ win streak is the longest since a 13-game run in the 1970-71 season. … Avs C John Mitchell sat out for a second time after leaving Tuesday’s game at Montreal with a back injury. He remains day to day. … Colorado D Erik Johnson turned 26 on Friday. … Boston hasn’t lost since a 4-2 defeat to Washington on March 1. … The Bruins have also won their last six road games and earned a point in their past 13 (10-0-3). … Boston has won its last three games in Denver.