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  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman, left, is congratulated by team captain Patrice Bergeron, right, after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins to clinch a playoff berth at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby hangs his head after being defeated by the Boston Bruins at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman makes a glove save against Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Jason Zucker during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston BruinsÕ Marc McLaughlin, left, and Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Teddy Blueger, right,, battle along in front of the PenguinsÕ bench during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman, center, makes a save on a shot by Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Rickard Rakell, left, as BruinsÕ Marc McLaughlin, right, looks on during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman, left, makes a stick save on a shot by Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Sidney Crosby, center, as Crosby is checked by BruinsÕ Brandon Carlo, right, during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston BruinsÕ Erik Haula, left, tips the puck over the shoulder of Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith, right, during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins’ Mike Reilly, right, checks Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, center, to the ice as Crosby loses the puck in front of Bruins’ goalie Jeremy Swayman, left, during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • Bruins forward Trent Frederic was back in the lineup for Thursday night's game. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston BruinsÕ Connor Clifton, right, checks Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Evan Rodrigues, left, off the puck during the second period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins’ Trent Fredric, right, rushes with the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins’ John Marino, left, during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston BruinsÕ Nick Foligno, right, checks Pittsburgh PenguinsÕ Sidney Crosby, left, during the third period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins won 2-1. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins’ Erik Haula, front, attempts to deflect the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith, rear, during the first period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston BruinsÕ Erik Haula, top, is congratulated by teammates Taylor Hall, center, and Jesper Froden, bottom, after Haula scored a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

  • BOSTON, MA - APRIL 16-SATURDAY: Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand, right, is held off the puck by Pittsburgh Penguins’ Mike Matheson, left, during the first period at TD Garden April 16, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Connors/Media News Group/Boston Herald)

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The Bruins still have things to clean up before the playoffs arrive, but at least now they know for sure that they are in.

The B’s snapped a season-long three-game losing streak with a tense 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Garden on Saturday, getting first period goals from Trent Frederic and Erik Haula that held up through another tough second period and breath-holding time late in the third.

They went 0-for-2 on the power-play (0-for-25 in their last seven games) and it felt at times like their 2-0 first period lead was going to completely disappear again, but they hung on late, surviving a 6-on-5 at the end of the game to clinch the postseason spot.

The chances that the B’s would not have qualified for the playoffs were miniscule, but guaranteeing a berth with a win against the Penguins after the way the B’s had been playing, the benchmark was worth appreciating.

“We talked about it in the room. We have a standard here. So we’re not going to go out an celebrate that we made the playoffs. But it’s still an accomplishment you can be proud of,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, who has now reached the post-season for the sixth time in as many tries as B’s coach. “It’s not easy to do it year in, year out in this league. I shouldn’t say it yet, but the New York Islanders, for example. Two Eastern Conference Finals Game 7s right down to the wire, and they almost need a miracle now to get in. So it’s not an automatic.

“Things happen during the year. For us, it certainly didn’t look automatic in November. Give the guys credit. They played through some adversity then and we ended up finding our game. It maybe took us a few more games than we’d hoped recently. But we’re in now and now we can start building out game for the playoffs, which I think we’ve been doing for the last months. We’ve just got to get our habits back and hopefully stay healthy.”

With Linus Ullmark on the shelf with what’s presumed to be concussion symptoms — Cassidy said he was feeling better on Saturday — the B’s got the kind of performance they needed from Jeremy Swayman. The rookie recorded 23 saves and his first win since April 2 after three straight losses. He came up big in the third (nine saves) to help the B’s hang on.

“I felt good. It was one of those games where I wanted to make sure I was square to the puck, seeing it well, get a little feel for it,” said Swayman. “I definitely took a lot of positives from today and I’m excited to move forward with it.”

As they did in their previous meeting against the Penguins, the B’s jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.  Frederic, scratched on Thursday after taking a bad penalty on Tuesday, came out breathing fire and scored just 49 seconds into the game. After an offensive zone faceoff loss, he beat John Marino to a loose puck on the left boards, bumped it low to Craig Smith and headed to the net. Smith didn’t mess around, firing a shot on goalie Casey DeSmith. The shot produced a slot rebound and Frederic was there to backhand it home for his sixth of the season.

By the 2:01 mark, the B’s had a 2-0 lead. Erik Haula collected his own rebound off a rush shot and threw it into the crease, where it deflected home off a Pittsburgh skate for Haula’s 15th.

The B’s had chances to extend the lead, failing on their lone power play of the period, stretching the streak of futility to 0-for-24, and the snake-bitten Brad Marchand was robbed by DeSmith a couple of times.

Unfortunately for the B’s, the early 2-0 lead was not the only similarity to that Feb. 8 game. As he did two months ago, old friend Danton Heinen got the Pens on the board early in the second period, on a goal Swayman should have had. It appeared as though the B’s had a 2-on-2 thwarted when the puck came to Heinen in the high slot. Heinen snapped a shot that may have been deflected out high but still gave time for Swayman to react. But he didn’t pick it up until late and it beat him.

That would be Swayman’s only blemish on the day but, at the time, the here-we-go-again vibe was palpable. They had lost four of their previous five games and, in all the losses, the B’s had held a lead at one point.

Then the B’s did all they could to help the Pens tie it up. They survived a Nick Foligno hooking penalty, failing on numerous chances to get the puck out of the zone. When Foligno was freed, the B’s were still in scramble mode and Charlie McAvoy took a tripping penalty on Sidney Crosby.

The second kill was much cleaner, though, and the B’s appeared to regain some equilibrium from it.

“I thought what was good about that kill was the shots they got ended up being off net and some of that has to do with us working hard to our spots and forcing them into hurrying their shot becuase we were in the lane. And that’s good killing to me,” said Cassidy. “(The killers) weren’t great the other night against Ottawa. As much as the power-play wasn’t good, neither was the kill. We pride ourselves on that, so good to get that part back up and running and hopefully the power-play will start contributing as well.”

The B’s would be forced to kill a third penalty in the third, then face the 6-on-5 with DeSmith pulled for the extra skater, but the Pens never got another one by Swayman.

Then it was happy time. With Ullmark out, Swayman had to improvise his post-win celebration. He decided to a belly-bump with backup Troy Grosenick, but the aesthetic was not pleasing.

“We both almost fell down,” said Swayman with a sheepish laugh. “That was a new one.”

He then went with a self-hug after regaining his balance. But his pal did not leave him hanging. When he came off the ice, Ullmark met Swayman in the hallway and the two completed their now trademark goalie hug.

With a playoff spot clinched and two days off ahead, all seemed right in the Black and Gold. At least for the moment.

 

 

 

 

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