Bruins fall to Sabres in a blood-boiling matchup
At 2:53, the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres lined up on a faceoff. Bruins’ tough guy Shawn Thorton and Sabres’ John Scott shed their gloves immediately after the puck dropped. Sabres enforcer Scott quickly used his left hand to gain a solid grab of Thorton’s jersey. Scott hammered Thorton with a string of rights, sending him tumbling to the ice after several punches.
With bad blood boiling over from last season, it’s no wonder that the Buffalo Sabres played with a vengeance. The Sabres wanted revenge for the Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller incident (in which Lucic charged into Miller and gave him a concussion), and that’s exactly what they got.
The Bruins lost their first regulation game of the season as they fell to the Sabres, 7-4, on Thursday night before 17,565 at the TD Garden. Initially leading 3-1 halfway through the second period, the team failed to keep up its momentum for the remainder of the game.
The game was highly anticipated to be a “bloodbath” between the two teams, but there was only one fight, a fight that sidelined an injured Thornton for the remainder of the game.
After a scoreless first period, each team exploded for three goals in the second. Buffalo started the scoring when Jason Pominville stripped Zdeno Chara in the neutral zone. The Sabres had a two-on-one rush and Cody Hodgson one-timed the puck past Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins played with energy and responded with three straight goals. Bruins’ forward Rich Peverley scored the first goal as he had a chance in the slot and beat Miller with a high shot.
Brad Marchand scored the first of his two goals nearly three minutes later as he dangled around Jordan Leopold before tucking a backhander past Miller. Another three minutes later, Marchand gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead as he finished Patrice Bergeron’s shot off a rebound.
The Sabres took it to the Bruins on the power play, scoring two goals with the man-advantage off the sticks of Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis. Sabres forward Vanek was set up in the slot and deflected a slap pass from Christian Ehrhoff. Vanek also got the assist on the game-tying goal as he dished the puck to Ennis and before Rask could move from right to left, the puck found the back of the net.
Boston scored a goal 1:45 into the third period from David Krejci, but Buffalo responded nearly a minute later with a goal from Alexander Sulzer. The Sabres buried another goal four minutes later, giving the Sabres a 5-4 lead.
With hopes of tying the game, the Bruins’ tried to pick up their momentum once again, but it was not enough. Vanek scored again and then Boston pulled Rask, allowing Pominville to score an empty netter. Boston had not allowed a third period goal all season and the Sabres torched that standard as they score four in the third.
The game was a tough loss for the Bruins to take, but it was bound to happen as some point. Boston’s power play was nonexistent and Rask was off his game, allowing six goals and turning away 25 shots. The Bruins committed a series of uncharacteristic defensive flaws as they puck-watched and pinched poorly. They deserved exactly what the Sabres gave them.
Thursday’s match-up between the Bruins and Sabres was the first of five for the year and the bad blood between the two clubs will continue to spark some tough competition throughout the shortened season. The teams will square off again on Feb. 10.