The Penguins helped the Bruins.

It’s rare for the Bruins to root for Pittsburgh, especially considering the Penguins still employ Public Enemy No. 1 Matt Cooke.

However, playoff races make for odd bedfellows, and tonight the Penguins did Boston a heavy. Pittsburgh defeated Buffalo in regulation, 5-3, which according to the Bruins and the NHL was what Boston needed to clinch a playoff berth.

The Bruins are now in the playoffs for the fifth time in five years under head coach Claude Julien after missing the postseason the two years prior to his arrival. Boston has advanced at least to the second round in each of the last three years.

Boston leads Ottawa for the Northeast Division title by six points with four games remaining. By my calculation, the Bruins need five points to guarantee the division title over the Senators, although there are other permutations when taking into account the regulation/overtime-win tiebreaker and the Bruins’ season-series win over Ottawa.

The Bruins are back in action Saturday on the road against the New York Islanders.