By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
Jeremy Swayman got the start tonight with Jaroslav Halak backing him up. Steven Kampfer also was slotted into the lineup to face Buffalo. Tonight was game two of three in a row against the Sabres, and the Bruins were looking to win their sixth straight game. For a team pushing for the playoffs, it was a crucial game to win against the bottom-feeding Sabres.
Someone just tuning in for the first time would have had a hard time deciphering which team was in a playoff race and which was sitting in the basement early in the game. The Bruins started out with some really sloppy play, turning the puck over quite a bit and just looking out of sync. All of Bruins nation collectively held their breath when Charlie McAvoy went down after blocking a shot and struggled to get off the ice. He would be okay though, returning to the ice later in the period.
Despite not looking 100% sharp, the Bruins hung in the game and were rewarded with a powerplay when Rasmus Ristolainen made a dumb decision and boarded David Pastrnak. The Bruins didn’t score on the man advantage, but it did give them a better foothold in the game, and they took advantage just a couple of minutes later. Brad Marchand stepped up once again as he has been doing all season when he popped a rebound attempt past a diving Dustin Tokarski to put the Bruins up 1-0.
The Bruins more or less controlled play for the remainder of the period. Connor Clifton appeared to have some discomfort in the defensive zone but seemed like he was able to shake it off. Swayman looked comfortable in the first period, starting strong yet again in his rookie campaign.
End of First Period: Bruins 1 – Sabres 0
First Period Shots: BOS 14 – BUF 7
The story of the second period was the Bruins’ inability to stay out of the penalty box. At the end of the twenty minutes, the B’s had made four separate trips to the sin-bin, with Marchand also serving the tail-end of a matching roughing minor that carried over from the first period. Fortunately, the Bruins were able to kill off all four penalties.
Old friend Anders Bjork showed the Bruins what they got rid of when he assisted on the game-tying goal just over five minutes into the period. Bjork sent a nice saucer pass over to Arttu Ruotsalainen, and the Finnish forward batted the puck out of the air and into the net, tying the hockey game at one goal apiece.
Later in the period, Tokarski gave the Bruins a gift when he misplayed a shot from the point with nobody screening him at all. Matt Grzelcyk was the lucky man credited with the goal. His routine wrist shot from the blue line must have had some magic on it because Tokarski couldn’t handle it, and the Bruins took the lead back 2-1.
End of Second Period: Bruins 2 – Sabres 1
Second Period Shots: BOS 12 – BUF 13 (Total Shots: BOS 26 – BUF 20)
The Bruins really opened up the scoring in the third period. Anyone who was afraid of letting the Sabres back into the game had their fears quieted. Less than five minutes into the period, David Pastrnak created an opportunity for himself with a subtle move that opened up a shooting opportunity and Pasta made the most of it. He gave the Bruins a two-goal lead with a beautiful cross-body shot into the far side of the net. The star winger’s 18th of the year made it 3-1 Bruins.
From there the floodgates opened. Nick Ritchie scored his first goal in 13 games not even two minutes after Pastrnak’s goal to put the Bruins up 4-1. The Bruins controlled play for the remainder of the period, keeping the Sabres under control and not allowing any real threat from Buffalo. After the first two periods in which the Bruins looked shaky at best, the third period was a textbook example of how to close out a game.
David Krejci really put the game to bed late in the third when he scored his sixth of the season. The veteran center tapped home a rebound after a point shot from Jeremy Lauzon ricocheted off the post. It’s encouraging to see Krejci starting to pick up his scoring recently, because every time the Bruins make a deep run in the playoffs, Krejci is among the leading scorers. If the boys in black and gold can get in, and Krejci can get hot, that could be a recipe for success that extends into late June.
End of Third Period – Final Score: Bruins 5 – Sabres 1
Third Period Shots: BOS 12 – BUF 10 (Total Shots: BOS 38 – BUF 30)
The Bruins looked shaky at first, but they don’t ask how you got the wins, just how many you have at the end of the year. Every win matters at this point in the season and taking care of a team like Buffalo is a necessity during a playoff push that has the top four teams in the MassMutual East division separated by only four points. The Bruins will get right back on the ice tomorrow against these same Sabres at 7:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time.