(Photo Credit: Charles Krupa/AP Photo)

By Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis

Well, it’s official: the 2023-24 regular season has ended for the Boston Bruins, and we finally know who they’ll be facing in the first round of the NHL playoffs. On a night when the in-game action took a backseat to the pregame festivities and congruent NHL action, here’s what went down between the Bruins and Senators:

Jack Edwards Retirement

Perhaps the biggest story from tonight’s game happened almost two hours before puck drop when the Boston Bruins announced via their official Twitter account that long-time Broadcaster Jackie Edwards will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season.

Edwards, who started his career with NESN in 2005, was honored before the game in an on-ice ceremony. He was gifted a commemorative stick akin to the ones given to players in their 1,000th game. The voice of the Boston Bruins was greeted with thunderous applause as the TD Garden faithful paid tribute to the man responsible for the soundtrack to so many of their fondest memories.

Frederic Wins the Seventh Player Award

Edwards also had the honor of announcing NESN’s 7th Player Award, given to the player who “works hard day in and day out for the good of the team without any expectation to be recognized. Trent Frederic was selected as the 2023-24 recipient and joined Edwards on the ice to claim his award.

Frederic set career highs in goals (18), assists (22), and points (40) this season while playing in all 82 games for the Black and Gold. The St. Louis native’s contributions on the penalty kill, positional versatility, and ability to play up and down the lineup made him an excellent choice for the accolade.

Lackluster Effort Sinks Bruins

Unfortunately, the 60 minutes following the pregame ceremonies weren’t nearly as exciting or Bruins-friendly. Boston was only able to muster three shots in a scoreless first period, and then the wheels began to fall off the wagon.
The game took a turn halfway through the second period when rookie Jiri Smejkal scored his first career NHL goal. He beat Linus Ullmark five-hole, with the puck trickling just past the line, giving Ottawa the lead. The referee initially ruled it no-goal, but after a brief review, it was confirmed, and the Senators surged ahead.

Less than a minute later, Jakob Chychrun beat Ullmark short-side on a three-on-two to extend the lead to two goals.

The Bruins showed some life in the third period when Pavel Zacha scored his 21st goal of the season on the power play at 12:44. Boston threw everything they had at Ottawa goaltender Anton Forsberg, peppering him with 23 shots in the final stanza.

Senators forward Shane Pinto took a hooking minor with 3:31 to go, and it seemed like the Bruins had enough juice to even the score until David Pastrnak turned a puck over in the neutral zone, resulting in an empty-net goal.

The Bruins lost to Ottawa 3-1 and finished the regular season 47-20-15, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division. With the Panthers winning their season finale, the stage is set for Boston to take on the rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Game Notes

  • It can’t be understated just how thunderous the applause was for Jack Edwards. TD Garden erupted when he walked onto the ice, and those cheers were bested when he was given his award. It’s been an incredible career for an incredible man.
  • Pavel Zacha hit 21 goals for the second straight season, adding to his career-high in points with 59.
  • In an odd postgame moment, Jim Montgomery was asked about Pastrnak’s turnover late in the third period. He stated that the turnover wasn’t Pastrnak’s fault and left the podium with that comment.
  • Saturday will mark the beginning of the fourth first-round playoff series between the bruins and Leafs since 2013.