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Bruins can't earn top-2 seed in East after loss to Lightning

Chase Agnello-Dean / National Hockey League / Getty

The NHL's best regular-season club will not be one of the Eastern Conference's top two seeds in the round of 16.

The Boston Bruins are unable to finish higher than No. 3 in the East following their 3-2 round-robin loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

"Well that part sucks, I'm not going to lie to you," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters, including The Athletic's Scott Wheeler, postgame. "We knew the rules going into it, that we would lose a bit of the advantage we'd gained. Would I have rather been the No. 1 seed? Absolutely."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask took a pragmatic approach to his team's fate.

"I think if you want to make a run in the playoffs, you've got to beat every team, anyways," he said, according to NBC Sports Boston's Nick Goss. "The situation is what it is. I think the worst thing that's going to happen to us is we're gonna lose the locker room in our practice rink. That's about it.

"I really don't care where we finish. We just have to focus on our game and try to (win) Sunday, and then going into next week. You gotta beat everyone, anyways."

Boston is now 0-2-0 in the round-robin stage after losing its opener to the Philadelphia Flyers by a 4-1 margin on Sunday. The Bruins will battle the Washington Capitals in Boston's final round-robin game Sunday.

The Lightning are 2-0-0 in round-robin play after defeating the Capitals in a shootout Monday, while Washington is 0-0-1 and the Flyers are 1-0-0.

Philadelphia will hold the tiebreaker over Boston if both teams finish 1-2-0 by virtue of its win over the Bruins.

Boston was the only NHL team to manage a triple-digit point total in the regular-season standings, finishing with 100 in 70 games. The Lightning were second in the conference with 92 points in 70 contests. Washington finished third in the East with 90 points through 69 games and Philadelphia posted 89 points - also in 69 outings - to sit fourth.

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