Bergeron nets 30th goal, sits out 3rd period

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins gave Patrice Bergeron a contract extension last summer because they know he is worth the investment.

Bergeron earned an eight-year extension worth $52 million, which all but guarantees he'll spend his entire career with the Bruins. On Saturday, he reached the 30-goal plateau for only the second time in his career to help Boston to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.

After playing two full periods, however, he did not return for the third. Coach Claude Julien described Bergeron's health issue as minor.

Bergeron has enjoyed one of his best seasons with the Bruins. But the fact he reached the 30-goal plateau and is one shy of his career-best 31 (2005-06) doesn't matter to Boston's assistant captain.

"While 30 is a nice achievement, it doesn't matter to me," Bergeron told ESPN's Louise Cornetta prior to Saturday's game. "It's one of those things that I just felt that if it happened, it happened. If it didn't, I wasn't going to worry about it. For me, it's just about keep building towards the playoffs. Scoring 30 goals, goal scoring or my stats has never been something very important to me. Helping the team to get to the playoffs and playing well is what's important."

Bergeron is considered one of the most humble players in the league. He would rather talk about the team's success than his personal accomplishments. It's no surprise that his teammates wanted to help him reach 30 goals.

"Obviously you want to try to help him out, but I don't think you really need to give him any help, he'll find a way to do it," said teammate Brad Marchand. "It's great and we're very happy for him and it's a good milestone."

Bergeron is a strong candidate to win his second career Selke trophy this season as the league's best defensive forward. He also helped Team Canada win an Olympic gold medal this winter in Sochi, Russia.

"We're really proud of what he's accomplished this year," said Julien, who also served as an associate coach for Team Canada. "[Scoring] 30 goals is quite a feat, and for a guy who excels at both ends of the ice, even more so. It takes a heck of a player to be able to score 30 and be so reliable defensively and be as strong at both ends of the ice. That's an incredible player, in my mind."

Bergeron and teammate David Krejci are in a close race for the team lead in the plus/minus category. With one game remaining in the regular season, Krejci has a slight advantage at plus-39 compared to Bergeron's plus-38. Krejci leads the team in overall points with 69, and Bergeron is second with 62.

"That's good. I'm happy for him," Krejci said of Bergeron's milestone. "Before the [Olympic] break it didn't look like he would crack 30, but after the Olympics he came back just like a different player. He's been playing extremely well, so it's good to have two guys with 30. Hopefully he can stay hot throughout the playoffs."

Marchand has witnessed firsthand how well his longtime linemate has played this season.

"Bergy's one of the best players in the league and he continues to show that every year. He continues to improve," Marchand said. "And he didn't have a great start, either. The fact that he still hit 30 shows how good of a player he really is, especially how hard he works defensively."

Bergeron has been locked in since returning from the Olympics. In fact, he has 11 goals and six assists for 17 points in his past 13 games.

"He just seemed he went there and found another gear and came back and just continued to play the same way," Marchand said. "He's been red-hot ever since he got back and hopefully he can continue that in the playoffs."