Smooth like Sutter: Penguins clinch spot, boot Bruins from playoffs

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line, one would expect Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby to take over against the Buffalo Sabres. Instead, it was Brandon Sutter.

His two goals powered a huge 2-0 win for Pittsburgh, who clinched a playoff spot while eliminating the Boston Bruins in the process. With this, all 16 postseason teams have been accounted for as the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs approach.

The Penguins let out a big sigh of relief when Sutter scored the 1-0 goal. His second tally might have been more impressive in a way, as he returned to the ice after taking a shot to the face to put in a big insurance tally.

It was tense at times for the Penguins, as the Sabres stuck with them even as Pittsburgh steadily out-shot them. One assumes that more than a few Pittsburgh fans had a “here we go again” feeling about a nice set of chances amounting to nothing, but Buffalo couldn’t put up much of an attack. Marc-Andre Fleury ended one of his better individual seasons with his 34th win.

To some extent, it felt like the Penguins carried an air of fatigue – only have five defensemen dressed is a succinct reminder of their issues – yet they’re likely glad to avoid a premature vacation. It’s easy to forget that the Penguins just continued quite the run of success because it was so close to falling through:

The Bruins would surely beg for the Penguins problems right now. Instead, they’ll miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Around the Internet, people are really giving it to the Bruins for putting first-round playoff tickets on sale in late March. Ouch.

Update: The Bruins fell 3-2 via a shootout against the Lightning in a game that became increasingly irrelevant for both teams.