Bruins blank Avs; clinch playoff spot

Bruins blank Avs; clinch playoff spot
March 21, 2014, 11:00 pm
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DENVER – It took some time for the Bruins to get the engine running, but once again they proved they are road tough.

The Bruins withstood an energetic first 30 minutes from the Colorado Avalanche and slowly imposed their will in an entertaining, strength (brute strength) vs. strength (skill and speed) battle that eventually ended in favor of the Bruins by a 2-0 score at the Pepsi Center.

The win gives the Bruins their 11th straight victory and pulls them into a tie with the St. Louis Blues for the NHL’s best record. More importantly, it means the Bruins are the first team to punch their ticket to the NHL playoffs. The Bruins are now 10-0-3 in their last 13 road games, and they haven’t lost in regulation on the road since a Jan. 9 loss in Los Angeles.

Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins the upper hand in the first period with a nice follow of his rebound for his 21st goal of the season, and Carl Soderberg snapped home a power play beauty in the second period to give the Bruins a commanding lead over the young, exciting Avs. Chad Johnson was a bit shaky in the first period while he was under siege making 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes, but he was excellent turning away some golden scoring chances for the Avs in the second period.

The win gives Johnson five straight victories for the Bruins, and W’s in each of the last two games against the Devils and Avalanche.

He stoned Maxime Talbot on a breakaway earlier in the period, and then thwarted a Jan Hejda chance on the doorstep after a slick Matt Duchene pass freed him up for the scoring chance. Along with Bergeron and Soderberg as standouts, Dougie Hamilton picked up assists on both Boston goals and played steady, solid defense against one of the  most explosive offensive hockey teams in the league.