Bruins vs. Penguins takeaways: Bruins finally clinch postseason berth after fast start

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Bruins vs. Penguins takeaways: B's start fast, finally clinch postseason berth originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Needing just a point to ensure their sixth straight appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins took no chances on Saturday.

Trent Frederic and Erik Haula scored in the opening 2:01 for Boston and Jeremy Swayman turned aside 23 shots as the Bruins picked up two points in a matinee win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden on Saturday, clinching their sixth straight postseason berth under coach Bruce Cassidy.

It'll be the 13th time in the last 15 seasons overall that Boston (46-24-5) has been in the postseason, as the Bruins search for an elusive second Stanley Cup for Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Bruins clinch playoff berth with win over Penguins

Here are some takeaways from Boston's win over Pittsburgh (43-22-11), an Eastern Conference rival set to make its 16th straight playoff berth.

Bruins take advantage of weak link in goal

Two ways to look at the Bruins mustering only two goals against journeyman Casey DeSmith, a 30-year-old netminder making just the 78th start of his career.

You could dwell on the negative that Boston was only able to score twice on DeSmith, who owned a pedestrian 2.94 goals against average and .906 save percentage entering the afternoon.

Or, you could take it in the context of the Bruins jumping on DeSmith early, with two goals in the first 121 seconds of regulation and putting their faith in their own goaltender (more on him in a bit).

Boston's offense isn't the same without David Pastrnak, who missed his sixth straight game Saturday, and the absence of Hampus Lindholm on the back end didn't help matters, either. While DeSmith seemed to get in a rhythm later on, it was of no use since the Bruins had already knocked him down a peg.

Much needed steadiness from Jeremy Swayman

The NHL Rookie of the Month in February has seemingly hit a wall of sorts.

With questions growing louder about who should start Game 1 of the postseason for the Bruins, Swayman or Linus Ullmark, the rookie delivered one of his finest performances since the beginning of March by limiting the high-flying Penguins to just a single goal on 24 shots.

Swayman was 1-4 with a dreadful .855 save percentage over his last five starts entering Saturday, having allowed three goals or more four times, so he's not out of the woods yet. But given that Pittsburgh is the kind of team he'd be facing in the postseason, he at the very least calmed the fire surrounding his hot seat -- even if some embers remain.

How about Erik Haula?

Through 25 games to begin the season, it's no stretch to say Haula was looking like one of the most disappointing free agent signings by the Bruins in recent memory. The 31-year-old Finn had just one goal and four assists prior to the New Year.

Since calendar year 2022, however, Haula has been among Boston's best players. Over 47 games, Haula has netted 14 goals to go along with 20 assists for 34 points, including a strike after following his own shot for a put-back 2:01 into the first.

One easy explanation for Haula's increased production is Boston's line shuffle since around the New Year, which saw Pastrnak move to the second line with Haula and Taylor Hall. That's absolutely a factor, but it's been better for the Bruins as a team by and large. All of a sudden, Haula looks like a bargain for next season at a $2.375 million cap hit.

Boston has seven games left in the regular season and next plays Tuesday in St. Louis against the Blues at 8 p.m.