David Pastrnak scores the winning goal in the third period Thursday night, lifting the Bruins to a 5-4 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP

The Boston Bruins beat the host Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, to win their 65th game of the season on Thursday night and finally found out who their first-round playoff opponent will be.

Meanwhile, Bruins fans have another finger-crossing situation.

By virtue of their loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Florida Panthers will face the Bruins in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, expected to start Monday at TD Garden. The Panthers are one of two teams to beat the Bruins twice this year, with both wins coming in Florida. The Bruins won twice in Boston.

Meanwhile, captain Patrice Bergeron – quite possibly playing his last game in his home province – left the game after the first period for what was club termed “precautionary” reasons because of an upper body injury. Add Bergeron to the list that includes Linus Ullmark and David Krejci of important players nursing injuries that they hope won’t keep them from playing Game 1 against the Panthers.

For the first time all year, the Bruins spent stretches of the finale looking like they didn’t care whether they won or lost. They won anyway, scoring twice in the third period. David Pastrnak won it with his 61st goal of the season.

If ever a Bruins-Canadiens game could be reduced to a glorified exhibition, it was Thursday’s regular-season finale. The Canadiens knew they were heading home for the summer, while the Bruins were tuning up for what they hope will be a long playoff run.


After spotting the Canadiens the first goal – a tally by UMass Lowell product Lucas Condotta on his first NHL shift – the Bruins bounced back with goals from Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk, who matched his career-high with his 27th goal despite missing a month because of a broken bone in his leg that he suffered in the Winter Classic.

After Montreal grabbed a 3-2 lead, defenseman Dmitry Orlov somehow slipped a shot over goalie Sam Montembeault’s shoulder and under the bar to tie it late in the second.

Then Boston again fell behind early in the third, but Charlie Coyle tied it with 11:12 remaining, roofing a nifty shot over Montembeault. Just 2:12 later, Pastrnak put the Bruins ahead with a tap-in.

HURRICANES 6, PANTHERS 4: Brent Burns scored twice and the Carolina Hurricanes scored four times in the third period to beat the Florida Panthers and win the Metropolitan Division.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jesper Fast, Shayne Gostisbehere and Sebastian Aho also scored for the Hurricanes, who began the night one point ahead of New Jersey atop the division. Frederick Andersen finished with 31 saves.

Carolina will open the Stanley Cup playoffs against the New York Islanders.


DEVILS 5, CAPITALS 4: Dougie Hamilton tied it in the third period, Luke Hughes scored his first NHL goal in overtime and New Jersey rallied for a win at Washington.

New Jersey erased a three-goal deficit, climbing back into it thanks to two from Erik Haula and one on the power play from Miles Wood. But Carolina’s victory at Florida locked the Devils into the second seed in the Metropolitan Division and set up a first-round matchup against the rival New York Rangers.


AVALANCHE: Colorado will have to try to defend its Stanley Cup championship without captain Gabriel Landeskog.

The team announced that Landeskog will not take part in the playoffs because of a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire regular season.

Landeskog underwent his second knee surgery of 2022 in October and was expected to miss roughly 12 weeks. But he has not been able to recover enough to get back on the ice for game action.

BLACKHAWKS: Chicago captain Jonathan Toews will not return to the team next year, ending a wildly successful run that included three Stanley Cup championships in 15 seasons.

General Manager Kyle Davidson said the team will not re-sign its longtime center, who turns 35 on April 29.

Long known for his two-way play and leadership, Toews had 14 goals and 16 assists in 52 games this year going into Thursday’s season finale. He has 371 goals and 511 assists in 1,066 regular-season games – all with Chicago.

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