By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Frederic – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn
McKegg – Studnicka – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Zboril – Clifton
Lauzon – Kampfer
Hall – Dea – Reinhart
Skinner – Lazar – Mittelstadt
Olofsson – Sheahan – Cozens
Fogarty – Eakin – Okposo
Bryson – Ristolainen
Montour – Miller
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Things got off to a dicey start early on, as Connor Clifton took an elbowing penalty just a minute and 16 seconds in. Sam Reinhart got the scoring going on the power play in pretty unfortunate fashion for the Bruins. Dan Vladar went behind the net with the intention of making a quick pass to Jakub Zboril, but Reinhart had other plans and potted an early goal just over two minutes into the game.
Brandon Montour went off for tripping 4:06 into the period. giving the Bruins their first power play of the game and a chance at getting the equalizer. Despite their efforts and some nice chances, they couldn’t convert and even strength play resumed.
The game got chippy past the halfway point. There were a few separate instances of chippiness that eventually led to a hooking penalty against Casey Mittelstadt with 5:01 remaining in the period.
In the same sequence, Trent Frederic embraced his role as the aggressor, talking some smack after the whistle. Sadly for the Bruins, they couldn’t convert on their second power play of the game. Here’s one of the aforementioned scuffles.
David Pastrnak took a late tripping penalty with 1:06 remaining in the period. While the Bruins killed off the first minute and six seconds, the Sabres had 54 seconds of power play time to work with to start the second period. Shots on goal in the first period were 13 to ten in favor of the Bruins.
Score: 1-0 Buffalo
A bright spot right out of the gate came in the form of killing off the remaining 54 seconds of the Pastrnak penalty from late in the first period. It didn’t provide much of a boost to the team, as they couldn’t bury an early goal.
A Charlie Coyle high sticking penalty with 12:45 remaining didn’t make their efforts to tie the game any easier, but they did manage to kill it off. Through the first 11 minutes of the period, the Bruins only had two shots on goal to eight for the Sabres.
It didn’t take long after a rough first 11 minutes or so to finally get on the board, as Matt Grzelcyk took advantage of a screen from Coyle in front of Linus Ullmark and buried his second goal of the season. Pastrnak (13) and Patrice Bergeron (16) had the helpers on the goal with 8:19 remaining in the period.
Kyle Okposo made it 2-1 Sabres off of a rebound with 5:48 remaining in the period. While it was nice to have the game tied for a bit, the Bruins were forced to play from behind against the league’s worst team again. Fortunately for them, a high sticking call against Jean-Sebastian Dea gave them their third power play opportunity of the game. Unfortunately for them, they failed to convert on said power play.
It was a tough period for the Bruins, who couldn’t crawl back into this game as much as they would have liked to and went into the second intermission behind a goal, much like the first. Shots on goal in the period were 14 to eight in favor of the Sabres, bringing the total to 24 to 21 in their favor.
Score: 2-1 Buffalo
A fantastic effort from Charlie McAvoy set up the tying goal for Nick Ritchie to turn the tides a bit. Ritchie’s ninth goal of the season was assisted by McAvoy (17) and Grzelcyk (9) with 14:38 remaining in the third period. McAvoy later followed it up with a big hit on Taylor Hall.
Montour took his second penalty of the game, this time for hooking with 10:22 remaining. Power play struggles continued for the Bruins, failing to convert on four power play opportunities in this one. But, they made up for it a bit later in the period with a go-ahead goal off the stick of Craig Smith. Smith’s sixth goal of the season was assisted by David Krejci (17) and Nick Ritchie (8) with 3:50 remaining.
The Sabres made a mad scramble for the tying goal just within the final 30 seconds, but couldn’t get the bounce they needed. Rasmus Ristolainen actually ended up with a goaltender interference penalty out of the whole melee out front on Vladar.
The Bruins held on in their first game without Brad Marchand, and Vladar made 25 saves in net for his second career win. At points throughout the game, there was a glimmer of hope for the Sabres to end their 16-game losing streak, but the Bruins came out of this one victorious. Shots on goal in the third period were 15 to three in favor of the Bruins, bringing the final tally to 36 to 27. The Bruins are 17-8-5.
Final Score: 3-2 Boston