Dominant Bruins clinch Presidents' Trophy as top regular-season team
The Boston Bruins clinched the Presidents' Trophy as the league's most dominant regular-season squad for the fourth time in franchise history with a hard-fought 2-1 overtime victory over the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Sniper David Pastrnak played the hero in the extra frame to secure the Bruins' franchise-best 58th win of the campaign.
The victory gave the Bruins 121 points on the season with seven games remaining on their schedule. With 131 points, the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings hold the record for the highest total since the award was introduced in 1986.
Boston will have home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which start April 17.
The Bruins have been an intimidating force at TD Garden. Head coach Jim Montgomery's side owns a 31-4-3 record in its own building this campaign, which he feels will be a daunting prospect for any playoff opponent to overcome.
"Teams aren't looking forward to coming in here," he said, according to Boston.com's Conor Ryan.
Captain Patrice Bergeron said he's "proud" of all the Bruins have accomplished so far.
"A lot of games and a lot of hard work," he said, per the Associated Press' Ken Powtak. "I'm proud of the way we've done it, sticking to our process and growing as a team."
The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks are the last Presidents' Trophy winners to lift the Stanley Cup. In the nine seasons since then, the regular season's best squad has only advanced past the second round once.
The Bruins haven't made it beyond the playoffs' first two rounds since 2019, when they fell to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final. Beantown was bounced in the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games last season.
It's been a stellar season for the Atlantic Division's top dogs, who set an NHL record with 14 consecutive home victories to start the campaign.
Pastrnak has led the way with 53 goals and 98 points in 75 games, while goaltender Linus Ullmark is a virtual lock for the Vezina Trophy. Heading into Thursday's game, he owned a .937 save percentage and 1.90 goals against average.
Boston started the season without key players Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy but remained unfazed by the early adversity under Montgomery, who replaced Bruce Cassidy in the offseason.
The Bruins are 58-12-5 on the season and have two all-time records in their sights: The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens own the benchmark for most points in a campaign (132), while the 1995-96 Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning share the title for wins (62).
Boston last won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
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