By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
Coming off a 1-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens on November 21st, Boston looked to extend their winning streak to ten games when they visited the Buffalo Sabres on November 23rd. This was a much-anticipated matchup because of what happened the last time these two teams faced each other. On November 12th, an incident between Milan Lucic and Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller was the reason behind the anticipation of this matchup.
‘It’s what makes sports,” Lucic said, noting the subplot that has been festering for nearly two weeks. “It builds rivalry…creates energy inside the game.” On the other side of the ice, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff responded and said, “That won’t happen again.” Tim Thomas would be in net for Boston, and Buffalo was going with Jhonas Enroth between the pipes. So here we go folks, the rivalry will add another chapter tonight.
First Period Fireworks
The puck was dropped, and it only took 1:21 for the teams to drop the gloves. As soon as Lucic took the ice (received by boos of the Buffalo fans), Lucic and Gaustad squared off, each removing helmets for a title bout. Skirmish goes about 30 seconds, ends with Gaustad going down after a couple of stiff rights by Lucic. Not much of a tussle. Easy decision for Lucic.
Neither combatant was harmed. Another fight would ensue just eight minutes later. The bigger Zdeno Chara drops Regehr and stops punching when the former Flames defenseman falls to the ice. After the teams finally decided to take a breather, Buffalo answered with the game’s first goal 23 seconds later. Christian Ehrhoff’s right point bomb zoomed past Thomas, 1-0 Buffalo with 8:04 left in the period.
At the 14:37 mark, Dennis Seidenberg was heading off for hooking, and Buffalo had a golden opportunity to go up 2-0 late in the period. Forty-five seconds into the powerplay, Buffalo did convert and make it 2-0. Thomas Vanek snapped a wrister by Thomas with the assist from Jason Pominville. With 3:47 left in the first, Boston did have an opportunity to cut the deficit to one when Luke Adam was heading off for slashing. Nothing was able to come from the Boston powerplay, and after 20 minutes, Buffalo had a 2-0 lead. The Sabres had a 16-12 shot advantage, and momentum was on their side.
After a not-so-pretty first period from the Bruins, Tyler Seguin made sure to turn things around when he scored a powerplay goal 3:37 into the second period. It was a one-time bomb from the youngster, and Bergeron was there for a perfect cross-slot feed to Seguin. Buffalo would get back-to-back penalties called, but Boston was unable to answer with the man-advantage. A minute after the halfway mark, Buffalo extended their lead to two once again when TJ Brennan scored his first career goal. It was a quick one-timer from the inner edge of the right-wing circle, and Buffalo was up 3-1.
Another powerplay opportunity came and went for Boston when Christian Ehrhoff was called for interference; however, with four minutes remaining in the second, Brad Marchand answered the call and made it a one-goal game once again. Marchand zipped a forehander to the top shelf, collecting the puck near the right post with Enroth still down in butterfly position. Assists went to Bergeron, Seguin. With the final 120 seconds of the period ticking down, Drew Stafford and Andrew Ference would get into a skirmish in front of Tim Thomas. It was the result of Drew Stafford barreling into Thomas, and Ference disapproved. The rest of the period ticked off, and after 40 minutes, the Sabres were clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Boston and Big Z Tie it up
Twenty minutes were left to play in regulation, and two minutes in Boston had an early powerplay opportunity. Derek Roy was going off for hooking. About halfway through the Bruins powerplay, Big Z (Zdeno Chara) potted the powerplay goal, and the Bruins were tied for the first time since 11:56 in the first period. Forty-nine seconds later, though, it appeared that Buffalo had retaken the lead. Off the initial shot from Drew Stafford, Derek Roy tipped the puck in.
However, the point of contact from where Roy’s stick met the puck was clearly above the crossbar; therefore, it was a no-goal, and the game was still tied three apiece. With 5:21 to go in regulation, the Bruins held a 34-27 shot lead. Buffalo’s game has shrunk, Bruins expanded. A significant blow would come to Boston with just 63 seconds remaining in regulation. David Krejci was going off for hooking, and Buffalo was going on the powerplay. There was no need to fear Bruins fans, Buffalo couldn’t score in regulation, and overtime was coming up.
Overtime not enough, Off to a Shootout
Overtime was underway, and it was nail-biting time for both fan bases. With 1:24 left, Nathan Horton was stoned at the right post by Jhonas Enroth. Then, 30 seconds later, Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe had a chance to score, but Thomas was there for the stop. That was all from overtime, five minutes expired, and now it was off to the Shootout. The Shootout consisted of ten total shooters (five from each team), and it wasn’t until the tenth shooter when the only goal was scored.
Boston’s Benoit Pouliot scored the winning goal. Pouliot skated in and fired a blistering wrist shot past Enroth. Boston was able to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win in a shootout. The Bruins were able to win the fights, and the goals scored at the end of the game. It wasn’t a pretty start, but Boston persevered and fought tough to earn their tenth straight victory. Boston would look to make it eleven straight wins on November 25th against the Detroit Red Wings.
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