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Bruins end playoff drought, deal enormous blow to Lightning’s hopes

With a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Boston Bruins officially clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Considering all the Boston Bruins went through lately, it has to feel good to see Zdeno Chara score the goal that really made it clear that they’d clinch a playoff spot on Tuesday.

That 3-0 tally made a Tampa Bay Lightning rally unlikely, with the Bruins ultimately winning 4-0. In doing so, they punched their ticket to the postseason after two lost seasons.

Now, while the Bruins checked off the most important box in actually making it to the playoffs, there are still other matters to settle:

  • Will Brad Marchand face a suspension through the Bruins’ final two games of the season ... and maybe even see his punishment extend into the playoffs? (More on that here.)

  • Who will they face in the playoffs? There’s a serious logjam in the Atlantic Division rankings, so we’ll see if the Bruins manage a round of home-ice or if they’ll settle for the third spot or fall to the wild card.
  • There’s no chance to move all the way to the top of the Atlantic, however. The Montreal Canadiens clinched the division title on Monday.

So, the Bruins still have a few pages to write in the story of their regular season, but they already know there will be a “To be continued” to the playoffs.

The Lightning, meanwhile, find themselves in a real bind. At 88 standings points and with just three games remaining on their schedule, it might just be a matter of time before the Lightning are eliminated.

If this game ends up being their undoing, then it will be a bitter way for Tampa Bay’s mad rush to end.

The Bruins can relate in falling just a few strides short of the playoffs ... but they’re glad not to share in the Lightning’s misery in 2016-17.