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Bruins clinch Northeast Division title, end Atlanta’s playoff hopes 3-2

Michael Ryder, Zdeno Chara

Boston Bruins’ Michael Ryder, center, celebrates with teammates at the bench including Zdeno Chara, right, of Slovakia, after scoring the go-ahead goal on a penalty shot in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Atlanta Thrashers, Saturday, April 2, 2011, in Boston. The Bruins won 3-2. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


It wasn’t a highlight reel sort of game for the Bruins, but a win is a win and for Boston the win today was good enough to win them the Northeast Division.

The hero in today’s 3-2 win over Atlanta was the Bruins’ resident of the dog house Michael Ryder. Ryder scored on a penalty shot with 7:29 to play in the third to put Boston ahead 3-2. Mark Recchi scored his 14th of the year while Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded goal in the second to tie the game at 2-2. Tuukka Rask made 28 saves to preserve the win for Boston.

The B’s had been dealing with an Atlanta team fighting for their playoff lives that saw Dustin Byfuglien score his 20th goal of the year and Evander Kane his 19th. Their hopes would all end today with the loss as they’re now nine points out of eighth with four games left to go.

What started out as a hopeful season for the Thrashers turned sour during the middle part of the season as the team’s defense faltered terribly and the outstanding goaltending they had been getting from Ondrej Pavelec (21 saves today) suffered for it.

Boston now sits back and waits to see who they’ll draw in the opening round while looking to keep winning to make a potential run at a higher seed in the top three. As it is, things are shaping up so that one way or another they’ll play one of either Buffalo, Carolina, Montreal, or the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Boston matches up very well against most of those teams but we’ve obviously got our eyes on Montreal as a first round meeting between those two with a potential return of Max Pacioretty to the Habs lineup would put that series off the charts for insanity.