Brandon Sutter (Bill Wippert / NHLI via Getty Images)
Brandon Sutter's heroics powered the Pittsburgh Penguins into the playoffs with a 2-0 win against Buffalo on the last day of the season. That means the Boston Bruins are out and Pittsburgh will take on the New York Rangers in the first round.
Brandon Sutter scored both goals in Pittsburgh’s 2-0 win over Buffalo on Saturday, securing a playoff berth for the Penguins and simultaneously eliminating the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins hung in until the end with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but just imagine their disappointment when they looked up at the scoreboard in the middle of the third and saw the Pens had already won.
Sutter looked like a basketball player on his first goal, using his back to protect the puck from the Sabres' defenders as he came out of the corner, cut across the hashmarks and backhanded it past Anders Lindback.
His second goal came in large part thanks to trade deadline acquisition Daniel Winnik, who snared a turnover in the Sabres' end and froze Lindback before dishing the puck across to Sutter for the goal.
It was Sutter's 21st goal of the season, tying his career-best total with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009-10.
The Pens will now play the Rangers in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh once looked like a lock to make the post-season, but they stumbled badly down the stretch and just barely managed to pull it together on this last day of the season. Sure, they beat Buffalo and edged out Boston for the spot, but they're not exactly hot heading into their series with the Rangers.
As for the Bruins, don’t be surprised if they shake things up this off-season. Many have hinted over the years that Cam Neely is not too fond of coach Claude Julien. Neely could never force out Julien so long as Julien was making the playoffs, but now, Neely may finally have the opening he needs to get his way.
But this is hardly Julien’s fault. The Bruins played almost half the season without top center David Krejci, while Zdeno Chara missed 20 games to injuries and showed obvious signs of decline in his game.
The roster is mostly set, so if anyone is going to pay for missing the playoffs, it'll probably be management.