By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @ndrsn27
Bruce Cassidy only made one change to the lineup tonight from Tuesday night’s game. Trent Frederic evidently played well enough to move up to the third line, and Nick Ritchie switched spots with him, taking the left-wing role on the fourth line. The rest of the lineup was the same as Tuesday’s game, and for good reason considering they won that one 3-1 against a solid Penguins team.
The Bruins got off to a hot start at the TD Garden tonight. Wearing their third sweaters with the large varsity block-lettered “B” on the chest, the Bruins’ perfection line waited just over a minute before taking their opportunity to strike. It was a very standard goal for the trio with Brad Marchand winning a puck battle and feeding the puck to Patrice Bergeron who set up David Pastrnak with a one-timer that he buried for his 19th of the season.
The Bruins played with fire for a while in the first period, and Tuukka Rask came up with some great saves to protect the lead. The B’s seemed to be allergic to passing the puck to the guys with the right color jersey on their backs, with turnover after turnover giving the Sabres multiple quality chances. Eventually, it was too much for Rask to stop, and Casey Mittelstadt put home his tenth goal of the year after another good kick save by Rask.
The goal seemed to be the kick in the pants that the Bruins needed for the rest of the first, and the third line went to work in the offensive zone. At the end of a great shift, Sean Kuraly nearly took the lead back when he dove to knock a loose puck off the post with about four minutes left. David Pastrnak earned a powerplay, and the Bruins momentum continued to build.
The first unit started the powerplay with a shot-first mentality. Bergeron and Pastrnak both were able to get quick shots on net off of faceoff wins, but it was the second unit that broke through. With under one second remaining on the time clock, the puck trickled over the Sabres’ goal line after David Krejci one-timed a fantastic pass from Charlie McAvoy. The shot hit off the near post, and then off the back of the Sabres goalie before slowly making its way into the net to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead going into the intermission.
End of First Period: Bruins 2 – Sabres 1
First Period Shots: BOS 13 – BUF 11
The second period proved to be rather uneventful, at least in terms of goal scoring. Rask continued his stellar play from the first period early in the second. It is often said that the goaltender has to be a team’s best penalty killer, and on the Sabres powerplay after a Curtis Lazar interference call, Tuukka was exactly that. He made a number of great saves to keep the score 2-1 in favor of the Bruins.
Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made a couple of nice saves of his own in the second frame, particularly a smooth glove stop on former-Sabre Taylor Hall, who walked right down the slot in front of the goal and tried to fire one past the young goaltender. That stop came on a Bruins powerplay with just under five minutes remaining in the period.
Rasmus Dahlin stepped out of the penalty box right into a breakaway chance at the end of the man advantage. The former number one overall pick walked in alone on Rask, but the Bruins’ Finnish goaltender stayed strong yet again, denying the Swedish defenseman of his sixth goal and once again maintaining the one-goal lead heading into the third period.
End of Second Period: Bruins 2 – Sabres 1
Second Period Shots: BOS 15 – BUF 11 (Total Shots: BOS 28 – BUF 22)
Before the two-minute mark of the third period, the Sabres broke the Bruins defensive dam and tied the game up at two apiece. The Bruins lost a puck battle behind their own net in which they had the numerical advantage in manpower, and Victor Olofsson found Sam Reinhart alone in the slot to tie the game up.
Not long after though, a miracle occurred inside the walls of the TD Garden. After 28 games without a goal, Weymouth-born forward Charlie Coyle chipped a puck over Luukkonen’s shoulder into the roof of the net to take the lead back and get the monkey off of his back. Hopefully, the goal pushes Coyle to score more and be a factor in a deep playoff run for the Bruins.
The Bruins then put the game away with a pair of goals from their talented left-wingers. Taylor Hall scored his fourth goal as a member of the Bruins after a beautiful toe-drag and pass from David Krejci. The goal gave the Bruins a 4-2 lead, and it was also Hall’s second goal against the Sabres this year, equaling his goal total for Buffalo earlier in the year.
Brad Marchand then made sure there would be no doubt that the Black and Gold would be taking the two points. With the Bruins on the penalty kill, there was no risk of icing the puck when Marchand took a chance at the empty net from his own defensive zone and found the top right corner of the net making it 5-2 Bruins.
End of Third Period: Bruins 5 – Sabres 2
Third Period Shots: BOS 12 – BUF 9 (Total Shots: BOS 40 – BUF 31)
The Bruins again looked sloppy at times in this game, and once the playoffs come around, they’ll have to sharpen up their game. Half a period of sloppy hockey against a really good team can lead to a three-goal deficit very quickly. It was good to see some more secondary scoring though, and hopefully, that is a sign of things to come leading up to the games that really matter. The Bruins will play the Sabres again at home at one o’clock pm on Saturday.