By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Arena: KeyBank Center – Buffalo, New York, USA
Home: Buffalo Sabres (21-12-5)
Away: Boston Bruins (20-14-4)
The Bruins have lost their last two games against the Hurricanes and the Devils this week and will look to end that streak against Buffalo.
The Sabres have lost three of their last four games including losses to the Blues, Capitals, and Panthers.
Before the game, the Sabres are third in the Atlantic Division with 47 points and the Bruins are in the second Wild Card spot with 44 points.
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
In the opening minutes of this Friday game, both the Sabres and Bruins battled against each other in some back-and-forth action. Four minutes in, only two shots were registered – one for each team. 4:40 into the hockey game, one of the newest Sabres, Jeff Skinner, races past Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, getting a backhand shot that is stopped from a sprawling Tuukka Rask. However, defenceman Marco Scandella pots home the rebound and it is 1-0 Sabres. The goal is Scandella’s second of the year assisted by Skinner (13) and Reinhart (30).
Somewhere before the halfway mark of the opening frame, the Bruins started to build some chances 5-on-5. The team cycled the puck around the boards and took some shots – most of which blocked by the opposition.
The aggressive play paid off. Sabres d-man Jake McCabe made a mistake handling the puck behind Carter Hutton and the puck bounced right to Noel Acciari who fired a shot off of Rasmus Ristolainen and into the net. Acciari is back in the lineup due to David Backes’ three-game suspension and he scores his first goal of the 2018-19 season. While the goal is deemed unassisted, Kevan Miller deserves credit for bringing the puck behind the net, creating the Buffalo turnover.
At 8:53, Jake DeBrusk is tripped up in Buffalo’s zone and the whistle is blown. Not long after that, former Canadiens player Nathan Beaulieu cross-checks DeBrusk from behind, leading to retaliation from Jake with a cross-check of his own. A small scuffle ensues but no serious fights come out of it. Bruins get a 5-on-4 powerplay.
On the Bruins man-advantage, Patrice Bergeron ripped a hard one-timer that was blocked by Jake McCabe. McCabe drops immediately and struggles to put any weight on his one leg. The Sabres manage to clear the puck and McCabe heads down the Buffalo tunnel. The B’s looked fluid on the PP but failed to turn the two official shots into goals.
Boston continued to stay constant on the pressure and one of the best chances late in the frame came with 3 1/2 minutes left. Colby Cave finds Chris Wagner on a 2-on-1 but Wagner’s shot is just barely stopped with Hutton’s glove. Back the other way, Cave is sent to the box for two minutes for a hooking minor.
Boston did a great job killing the penalty and did it with minimal opportunities by the Sabres offence. Bruins had a good first period, outshooting the Sabres 14-7 in the twenty-minute frame.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 14 BUF: 7
Score: 1-1 – Goals: Scandella, Acciari
Early on, a pair of penalties by either team eventually led to a four-minute power play for the Bruins due to a high-sticking double-minor. Somehow, on the man-advantage for Boston, the Sabres escape on a 2-on-1 with David Pastrnak the lone man back. Evan Rodrigues made a nice pass to Johan Larsson who buried his fourth of the season to make it 2-1 Buffalo. Scandella also picks up a helper on the play. Tuukka Rask showed his frustration after the goal went in, he wanted that back.
The rest of the period lacked any real good chances for either team but Buffalo seemed to have the better chances when they did come. Neither goaltender was truly challenged after the Larsson goal earlier in the frame. Tuukka Rask did come up big at one point in the period, stoning Elie with a massive glove save.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 21 BUF: 21
Score: 2-1 Sabres – Goals: Larsson
The opening minutes of the third period wasn’t boring, but it was not very entertaining hockey, to say the least. Whenever the offensive unit for each respective team entered the zone, they were quickly shut down by the opposing defensemen. For the Bruins, passes were not tape-to-tape whatsoever and the shots often hit members in front of the goalie.
About ten minutes into the frame, Sabres forward Casey Mittelstadt makes a blind pass right in front of his goaltender, Carter Hutton, only to feed it directly to Danton Heinen. Heinen attempted a deke but failed to shoot the puck over the sprawling tender. Danton was benched by Cassidy earlier in the game and missing this goal stings.
At the 7:45 mark, Torey Krug failed to break the puck out cleanly to DeBrusk along the boards, instead, passing it to Zach Bogosian of the Sabres. Bogosian’s shot is deflected by Remi Elie but Rask holds strong and makes the save.
With not too many chances to score for Buffalo, they needed to create some offence. Former Penguin, Connor Sheary steals the puck from Jake DeBrusk and tries to use his speed to get around Bruins Brandon Carlo, but the big defender in the Spoked-B sweater held his own and prevented a shot from coming off of Sheary’s stick. Some great defence showed by Carlo.
On a Bruins power-play, (Ristolainen for kneeing), one where the Bruins had great control and many chances with time ticking down, still down by one goal. Jake DeBrusk was everywhere on the man-advantage, shooting pucks, hitting players, attempting deflections and working along the boards. Eventually, a shot from Torey Krug is deflected beautifully by DeBrusk, tying the game with around 2:30 remaining in the final regulation period.
Bruins go to the 3-on-3 overtime session tied 2-2, solid finish to the third period by Boston with some chances to win late in the regulation time.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 39 BUF: 26
Score: 2-2 – Goals: DeBrusk
Following some decent chances in the overtime session, David Krejci is called on an interference penalty on Jeff Skinner and the Bruins are forced to go on the penalty kill in the do-or-die overtime. Boston’s penalty killers did a great job shutting down the offence of Buffalo and killed it off.
Vladimir Sobotka had a solid chance while driving in on Tuukka Rask, but Rask stayed relaxed and made a big save in tight on Sobotka keeping it tied with 1:38 to go in the period.
Off of a defensive zone faceoff victory, the pairing of Kevan Miller and Matt Grzelcyk made some d-to-d passes, before Grzelcyk decided to feed the puck to Sean Kuraly. Kuraly bolted down the wing, taking a shot once he entered the zone. Hutton could not control the rebound as it bounced right back to Kuraly who buried the game-winner 3:44 into OT.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 42 BUF: 28
Final Score: 3-2 Bruins
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: BUF G Carter Hutton – 39 Saves, .929 SV%
2nd Star: BOS F Sean Kuraly – 1 Game-Winning Goal, +1 Rating, 4 Shots, 15:43 TOI
3rd Star: BOS F Noel Acciari – 1 Goal, +1 Rating, 5 Shots, 67% Faceoffs, 14:34 TOI
Boston’s record now improves to 22-14-4 and currently sits in the first Wild Card position with 46 points. The Canadiens are at 45 points, losing tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 after a late regulation goal by Adam Erne. The Bruins now set their focus to the 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks (14-20-6). Scheduled puck drop for Tuesday’s game is 1:00pm EST. Check out my Winter Classic article via the Tweet below!!
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