BOSTON – While the Bruins have had their share of success during the course of the past couple of weeks, it is hard to sustain this kind of momentum during the course of the season. Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins were a little flat and as a result they hit a bump in the road in their 4-2 loss.
“From start to finish there’s not much to say except we were totally flat tonight,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien after the loss. “From the first player to the last, we just didn’t have it
“I’m not saying guys were bad, I’m saying we were flat tonight. That’s the thing…we kind of talked about after the game is that from the first player to the last, we just didn’t have it.”
Coming off their two-game sweep off the home and home series with the Caroling Hurricanes, the Bruins created some chances offensively, but they couldn’t solve Ryan Miller (38 saves) and Sabres defense. The Blue and Gold kept the Bruins from crashing the net effectively and made them settle for low percentage shots.
Defensively, the Bruins had some of the same issues that have been seen with this team all season when playing in front of goaltender Tuukka Rask.
“It’s a shame because things seem to always fall when Tuukka’s playing in net,” said Bruins forward Blake Wheeler, who had an assist on Gregory Campbell’s seventh goal of the year at 4:51 of the second period. “We always seem to hang him out to dry and he’s too good of a goalie for us to keep doing that to him. We have to help him out when he’s out there and each of us are held accountable when he’s in the net.”
But even though the defense held him out to dry, again, Tuukka admitted that he could have played a better game.
“I think I obviously could have stopped all four of the goals I let in. But, not that I really had a chance,” he said. “I didn’t play the greatest game, but it happens.”
Sometimes luck can go against you even when a team is playing as well as the Bruins these past couple of games. Thursday’s game was obviously a pretty good example.
“It’s tough, but in this league, it’s our job,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. “I think everyone in this league is trained to do that and they’re in pretty good shape. I think most nights you can’t play that level, especially when you have four good lines like we do, three good solid pairs of D, we’ve got a very good chance every night. We just have to make sure we bring it every night, though.”
After Dennis Seidenberg gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with his fourth goal of the year at 11:01 of the first, Cody McCormick responded with a goal of his own just 64 seconds into the middle stanza. McCormick’s first shot initially hit the post, but he gathered the rebound and lit the lamp for his seventh time this year.
Former Boston College Standout Nathan Gerbe would later tie the game at 2-2 at 10:36 of the second on a Sabres power play when reigning Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers set up the play on a beautiful feed from the point. From there Gerbe took the puck from the faceoff circle and fired the puck past Tuukka for his third goal of the year.
“I’m comfortable there. It was a great play by Tyler Myers and I just wanted to shoot as quick as possible,” said Gerbe, who made a habit of scoring that particular goal during his days at BC. “It’s always very satisfying to score there. It’s even more satisfying to get the win and the two points.”
The Sabres used their transition game to their advantage in the third as Thomas Vanek – who scored his 18th of the year at 5:13 of the third, which proved to be the game-winner – and Jason Pominville – who added an insurance goal at 16:40 on a 3-on-1 rush – took advantage of the Bruins defensive miscues.
While they weren’t hurt by it too much during the first two periods, the Bruins coach noted that it wasn’t something they did a particular good job with throughout the entire 60 minutes.
“It’s not so much about how to defend against the transition game,” said Julien. “It looked good for them because of what we talked about. We were cuahgt flat footed and didn’t have any jump in our game and weren’t able to muster that many scoring chances because we never seem to get there.”
Unlike another certain team in New England, the Bruins will look to bounce back from their flat-footed effort (no pun intended) when they hit the road for a quick two-game trip to the West Coast beginning Saturday afternoon in Colorado.