The Boston Bruins are locked in as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. In their regular-season finale, they'll face a team that also already knows its fate.
The Bruins will try to head into their Stanley Cup defense with some momentum when they welcome the eliminated Buffalo Sabres for Saturday's matinee.
Boston (48-29-4) wrapped up its third Northeast Division title in four seasons Sunday, allowing the team to rest starting goaltender Tim Thomas in consecutive games. Anton Khudobin stopped a career-high 44 shots during a 3-1 victory in Ottawa on Thursday, helping the Bruins improve to 8-2-1 in their last 11.
"We wanted to make a statement to ourselves that we're ready for the playoffs," defenseman Greg Zanon said. "We're just trying to be ready, ready for Saturday and ready for that first game (of the postseason).
Boston is currently in line to face the Senators in the opening round of playoffs but could take on Washington depending on what happens on the final day of the regular season. The Sabres, meanwhile, are wishing they could ponder a first-round matchup.
Buffalo's torrid rally for a playoff spot fell short as Philadelphia scored two goals in the third period to deliver a 2-1 defeat Thursday. The Sabres were attempting to become the second team to make up a double-digit deficit in the postseason race over the final two-plus months.
"We just didn't finish," coach Lindy Ruff said. "We had our chances, and we didn't get the kind of shots we needed. There were far too many chances by the wayside."
With 31 points in 19 games, Buffalo (39-32-10) made strides toward joining the 1994 New York Islanders as the only clubs to pull off that feat. The loss to Philadelphia, though, was the team's third regulation defeat in four contests.
"It's disappointing. It's embarrassing to miss the playoffs," goaltender Ryan Miller said. "We have a lot of talented players on this team, and we just didn't get it going early enough this season."
The Sabres will try to soothe their disappointment with their first win in Boston this season. They fell 3-1 at the TD Garden on March 8 as Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci scored third-period goals.
Buffalo was also routed 6-2 there Nov. 12 with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand each recording three points. Seguin has a team-best six points against the Sabres this season.
Miller, though, performed well against Seguin and the rest of the Bruins in February, allowing one goal over two matchups.
He made 36 saves during a 6-0 rout Feb. 8 as leading scorer Jason Pominville tallied two goals. Miller stopped 35 shots and three of four attempts in the shootout during a 2-1 win Feb. 24.
He's 10-1-3 with a 2.21 goals-against average in his last 14 regular-season games against the Bruins, but it isn't clear if he or backup Jhonas Enroth will start the season finale. Enroth, 0-8-2 with a 3.25 GAA in his last 11 appearances, is 0-3-1 with a 4.37 GAA in five career matchups with Boston.
With backup goaltender Tuukka Rask's chances of returning from a strained groin unknown, Khudobin might get another chance to audition for that role for the postseason. He's only appeared in seven NHL games but is 5-1-0 with a 1.32 GAA.
Veteran Marty Turco, meanwhile, is 2-2-0 with a 3.68 GAA in his five games this season.
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