Special teams strike again
Yet again tonight, Boston couldn’t find the net on the power play. Their counterparts, though, took advantage of what seemed like countless Bruins penalties.
Buffalo converted on two of its seven power play opportunities and tied the game at 3-3 with Tim Connolly’s goal early in the third period.
Connolly’s goal came with the Sabres on a 5-on-3, following penalties to wingers Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand just 17 seconds apart from eachother. The tally brought the game to overtime, where former Bruin Brad Boyes found the back of the net off a Nathan Gerbe feed to clinch the game for Buffalo.
The Bruins, on the other hand, continued to struggle on the power play, failing on all three of their attempts to extend their anemic 0-for-19 streak on the power play. They’ve yet to score on the man-advantage since the acquisition of renowned power play specialist, Tomas Kaberle.
While the Bruins were able to net two of their three goals within a minute of Buffalo penalties expired, their overall effort on the special teams doomed their fate in the 4-3 loss to their Northeast Division rivals.
Thomas steals another point
Make no mistake about it, the only reason Boston escaped tonight’s game with a point was the play of goaltender Tim Thomas.
The Vezina Trophy frontrunner kept Buffalo at bay for much of the night, turning away 41 of the visitors’ 45 attempts. Many of his saves came in his unorthodox, “how did he do that?” style. Ultimately, though, Thomas’ efforts fell short as the Bruins dropped their second straight game in overtime and third straight overall.
Toughness not the answer
After Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek tied the game at 2-2 with just more than a minute remaining in the first period, the Bruins turned to what has been their catalyst most of the season to help regain their momentum.
Unfortunately for the hosts, subsequent fights by defenseman Adam McQuaid and winger Milan Lucic did little to turn the tides going into the second intermission. Instead, the Bruins started the third period sloppy, and Recchi’s and Marchand’s early penalties ultimately yielded the Sabres’ tying goal.
The Bruins outplayed Buffalo physically all night, but that wasn’t enough as the Sabres continued to fight for their playoff lives with their third win in four games. The win moves the Sabres into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
First line continues to click for the B’s
On a night that was anything but consistent, Boston found reliability from an area that has been spotty all season: its first line.
But, as has become the norm over the past month, the team’s first unit of Lucic, center David Krejci and winger Nathan Horton dominated their time on the ice from the puck drop. The trio combined for the game’s first goal, when Horton fed Krejci in the neutral zone to transition from the Bruins’ end. Krejci found Lucic as the pair crossed the Sabres’ blue line, and Lucic fed a beautiful pass across goaltender Ryan Miller’s crease to Horton, who buried his 19th goal of the year.
For the rest of the night, the line combination continued to buzz, pinning Buffalo deep in its defensive end for long periods of time. The Bruins couldn’t harness the energy of their first line, though, squandering two leads en route to the disappointing loss.