Morning Skate 328: Playoff clincher is first step

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Morning Skate 328: Playoff clincher is first step

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.comPHILADELPHIA It might have been a little sweeter for the Bruins to slap backs and fist bump each other for securing a playoff spot after finishing off a Flyers bunch looking a bit out of sorts on Sunday night.The Bruins punched their postseason ticket with the 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center powered by power play goals and shimmering brilliance of goaltender Tim Thomas once again at the full height of his puck-stopping powers.The Bs basically can finish no less than the third seed in the Eastern Conference after vanquishing the Canadiens last week, and can still realistically push the Capitals, Penguins and Flyers for the top spot in the East if they can get scalding hot in their final seven games.It really appears that the top eight teams in the East are locked in, and now its a just a matter of the Canadiens, Rangers or Lightning as playoff opponents for the Bs in the first round should things remain close to their current standings.Its obviously awesome, said Mark Recchi, who got a big assist on Brad Marchands power play goal game-winner in the third period against Philly. Its a lot of hard work this right from Vermont to the start of training came to Prague and then here we are with seven games left. And were still working on it and we want to make sure were full steam ahead.We have three big games this week as well, and it just never seems to end.Nathan Horton has nine goals in his last 17 games, the power play seems to finally be living up to its might name and skilled cast of characters, and Tim Thomas has again dipped his goalie pads into the fountain of hockey youth he discovered at the beginning of the season.Its been a long haul for a Bs team thats had several low moments throughout the regular season the Claude Julien is in trouble talk leading up to the Atlanta Thrashers game in January, the third period collapse against the Montreal the Bell Centre, the March losing streak marred by the Max Pacioretty head slam into the stanchion but the Bruins have proven themselves one of the best teams that the East has to offer.Were focusing on what we can do right now. Were not focused on where were going to end up, but we know were probably not going to end up any lower than third, said Recchi. We want to make sure were playing well going into the playoffs and thats our focus right now. Where we end up is where we end up, and thats not something were too worried about right now. Its now were playing and what were doing going into the playoffs so that we can make sure were full steam ahead.It also remains instructive that the Bruins are an impressive 13-6-3 this season in games against the top 6 teams in the East including the Flyers, Capitals, Penguins, Lightning and Canadiens, and have risen to the occasion against their best competition. The hard part of the playoffs qualifying for them through an 82-game grind is in the rear view mirror after a playoff-style victory in Philly. For guys like Tomas Kaberle, its a feeling that hasnt been there in a long time.Its been a while. Its been six years, said Kaberle. Im happy for it, but its a long way and I know it. Even though we only have seven games left we really just have to keep performing.Thats right.Its about keep performing and expelling some of the playoff ghosts that have haunted the Black and Gold over the last few seasons.On to the links:I dont agree with ESPN.com'sPierre LeBrun on his opinions concerning Mark Recchi and his actions toward Max Pacioretty, but I respect his stance and the way he went toe-to-toe with Mike Milbury on it during Hockey Night in Canada.Broad Street Hockey takes a look at why the Flyers have struggled so much lately, and havent beaten a team currently in the playoff mix since late February.Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail stands up for Theo Fleury as the ever-present haters attempt to take a piece out of him via Twitter. Also, was E from Entourage actually taking up a spot behind the New York Islanders bench last Tuesday night? Wow. Where will Johnny Drama wind up?CBCs Elliotte Friedman has the low down on Merrimack College superstar Stephane Da Costa making the jump to the NHL. On a side note, congrats to Mark Dennehy and the Merrimack program for an amazing season that ended last weekend during the NCAA Regional in Manchester, N.H.Another guy to follow on the Da Costa radar is Mike McMahon with the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, who has been all over the Merrimack beat this season.You had me at "When Mr. Carrie Underwood Came to Nash-Vegas" in your headline.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

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Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars where Patrice Bergeron scored two goals.

Patrice Bergeron scores 2, Bruins beat Stars, 6-3, to end winning trip

Patrice Bergeron scores 2, Bruins beat Stars, 6-3, to end winning trip

Patrice Bergeron had two goals and an assist as the Boston Bruins beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 Sunday, improving to 6-1 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

The Bruins completed a 3-1 road trip.

Stars captain Jamie Benn and Boston forward David Backes began fighting just 2 seconds into the game and drew major penalties. They have a history between - this was the first time they've faced each other this season, and it was the third straight year they've fought.

The Stars had tied the game in the second period after trailing 2-0. But Frank Vatrano and Bergeron scored on deflections 40 seconds apart in the second, and Bergeron added his 16th goal of the season in the third period.

Brad Marchand, David Krejci scored in the first period for the Bruins. Marchand had two assists and Torey Krug had three assists.

John Klingberg and Jiri Hudler had second-period goals for Dallas, and Tyler Seguin scored in the third.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had 33 saves.

Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves for Dallas. Three of Boston's goals came on deflections.

Vatrano deflected Kevan Miller's drive from the right point through traffic past Lehtonen to break a 2-2 tie in the second. Bergeron and Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn became tangled in front of Lehtonen on the Bruins' fourth goal.

Marchand scored from the left faceoff circle at 5:56 of the first period after taking a pass from behind the net from Bergeron.

Dallas made it 2-all on the first power play of the game. Hudler scored on a snap shot at 11:49 of the second.

Boston regained a two-goal lead less than 4 minutes later when Vatrano and Bergeron scored at 14:41 and 15:21.

NOTES: Dallas D Johnny Oduya returned after missing 15 games because of an ankle injury. . Miller and Dallas LW Curtis McKenzie also fought in the second period. . Marchand has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. . Krejci has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past seven games. . Krug has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven career games against the Stars. . Hudler has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 14 career games vs. Boston. . The visiting team has won the last seven games between the teams, dating back to 2013-14.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Arizona.

Stars: Play the fourth of five straight home games vs. Pittsburgh on Tuesday.