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Bruins clinch Presidents' Trophy for fourth time in franchise history

BOSTON -- It's official: The road to the Stanley Cup will go through Boston.

That much has been known for quite some time, as the Bruins have rolled through just about anyone standing in their way this regular season. But Boston clinched the Presidents' Trophy and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference on Thursday night, thanks to an overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden.

"Obviously, to have won the Presidents' Trophy, like I said to the players, be proud of what we achieved," head coach Jim Montgomery said after the game. "I guess it exemplifies how good of a team we've been, and that's a feather in everyone's hat throughout the organization, including scouts, pro scouts, the job they've done for us, the amateur scouts throughout the years and, obviously, upper management.

"And then you look at the players, what they've done. It's the players that get us there, and it's a bunch of work that's gone in throughout the organization to get the right players in our locker room," Montgomery added. "It's been a magical season so far. We know the hardest part is ahead of us, and we're looking forward to that grind."

David Pastrnak won it for Boston just 41 seconds into overtime with his 54th goal of the season. The win gives the Bruins a franchise record 58 wins on the season, and their 58-12-5 record is good for 121 points with five games left before the playoffs.

"Of course, you're proud," Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said of claiming the Presidents' Trophy. "It was a lot of games. A lot of hard work. I'm proud of the way we've done it by sticking to our process and growing as a team and learning, and really playing for each other. 

"That being said, it's nice, but obviously, you have your eyes set on something bigger," Bergeron added. "We know there's a lot of work in front of us." 

In doing so in 75 games, the Bruins are tied for the fourth-fewest games needed to claim the Presidents' Cup. The 1995-96 Red Wings own the record, clinching in just 71 games.

This is the fourth time that the Bruins have won the Presidents' Trophy -- given to the team with the most points during the regular season -- since it was introduced for the 1985-86 season. Boston also won it in 1989-90 (101 points), 2013-14 (117 points), and in 2019-20 (100 points in a COVID-shortened season).

None of those three Bruins teams went on to win a Stanley Cup, however. The 1989-90 Bruins lost to the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1, in the Cup Final. The other two teams both lost in the second round; the 2013-14 team to the Montreal Canadiens and the 2019-20 team to the eventual Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

In fact, only eight teams that won the Presidents' Trophy have gone on to win the Stanley Cup. The 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks are the last Presidents' Trophy winners to also take home a Cup -- when they beat the Bruins in the Final. Seven teams that finished with the most points in the regular season went on to lose in the second round. The 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning lost in the first round after winning the Presidents' Trophy.

At least the team that wins the Presidents' Trophy gets $350,000, which is split between team personnel and the players. Still, you have to imagine most of the teams that came up short in the playoffs would have much rather had their names etched on the Stanley Cup.

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