Bruins can't do it themselves with their 2-2 tie

BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Bruins played aggressively in the third

period, hoping to get into the playoffs with a victory. Turns out they

didn't need it.

A few minutes after they tied the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-2 Monday night, they clinched a postseason berth when the New York

Rangers lost to Atlanta in overtime.

''It's all good to make the playoffs,'' Boston's Brian Rolston

said, ''but you are here for one reason, to win the Stanley Cup.''

The Bruins are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with

84 points, while the Rangers have 76. Each team has three games


The Rangers still have a chance to catch the New York Islanders,

with 80 points and four games left, for the eighth and final

playoff spot in the East. The Rangers visit the Islanders, who hold

a three-point lead, Tuesday night.

Former Boston goalie John Grahame kept the Bruins from clinching

on their own as he was outstanding in the third period and overtime

when Boston outshot Tampa Bay 19-4.

''It was weird coming in here. I've never been in the visiting

locker room before,'' said Grahame, who was traded Jan. 13. ''Once

you get out there, everything goes back to normal.''

With all those shots, the Bruins managed only to tie the game

2-2 on Mike Knuble's 28th goal at 4:28 of the third. Joe Thornton

made a backhand pass from the right point into the slot. Knuble,

standing 15 feet in front of Grahame, scored with a hard forehand


''The trick will be to carry the pace of play we had (in the

third period) into'' the game Tuesday at Ottawa, Knuble said.

Tampa Bay extended its franchise record unbeaten streak to

12 games with its third consecutive tie and fourth in six games.

They clinched at least the sixth seed in the East.

''You'd like to get the two points as often as possible, but we

are finding a way to stay in it until the end,'' Tampa Bay's Dan

Boyle said. ''This wasn't one of our best games.''

It could have been better if not for Bruins' goalie Steve

Shields, who stopped the most dangerous scoring chance of overtime.

Boyle skated into the Bruins zone and went between defensemen

Dan McGillis and Bryan Berard. He took a shot from point-blank

range with 25 seconds left, but Shields stopped it with his pads.

''We've come a long way,'' Boyle said. ''Earlier this season we

would panic in games like this, but now we stay calm.''

Tampa Bay extended its unbeaten streak to 6-0-6 and is 13-2-8 in

its past 23 games. But its long winless string in Boston continued.

Tampa Bay is 0-14-4 there since its last victory Dec. 17,

1997. Overall, they're 1-15-5 in Boston.

The Bruins' play picked up after coach Mike O'Connell told them

during the second-period intermission ''that we weren't skating,''

Boston's P.J. Axelsson said.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead just 1:01 in on Ruslan Fedotenko's

18th goal. He had the puck behind the net and jammed it by Shields.

Nick Boynton tied it for Boston with his seventh goal at 13:49

of the first. Jozef Stumpel shot the puck toward the goal, and

Boynton, standing five feet in front of Grahame, poked it in.

The Lightning made it 2-1 at 12:32 of the second period on

Fredrik Modin's 17th goal as he deflected Brad Richards' shot past


Game notes
The Bruins recalled right wing Lee Goren from Providence of the AHL

where he had 32 goals, 37 assists and 106 penalty minutes in 65

games. ... Last season, the Bruins clinched a playoff berth with a

victory over Tampa Bay on March 24, finished first in the East but lost

in the first round to Montreal. ... Shields started his fourth

consecutive game in place of first-string goalie Jeff Hackett, who has

a finger injury. ... Tampa Bay hasn't allowed more than three goals

in a game since Feb. 23. ... Boston is 2-2-2 since O'Connell

succeeded the fired Robbie Ftorek as coach.