Buffalo, NY – It was one of those games where you were glad to be a lover of the game of hockey.
The fans, and the media for that matter, got their money’s worth tonight. There were goals, fighting, overtime and it ended in a shootout. Only thing that would’ve made it better for the fans in attendance is a Sabres victory, but that wasn’t to be as Boston came from behind to beat the Sabres 4-3 in a shootout.
“I was happy with how we played,” Lindy Ruff said afterwards.
The fun started just 1:23 in when Paul Gaustad and the hated Milan Lucic dropped the gloves. Although Lucic clearly got the better of the Sabre center, but it set the tone early that Buffalo wasn’t going to back down from the Bruins. Ruff said that he was happy with how his team responded. “We answered every call,” he said.
The fisticuffs continued halfway through the period went Brad Marchand hit Nathan Gerbe in the corner and Gaustad came flying in to aid his teammate. During the big scrum that ensued, Robyn Regehr found a dance partner in Zdeno Chara. The two behemoths went toe-to-toe, but Chara slightly got the advantage in that decision.
Vanek continued his hot play, tallying his 12th goal of the season
Buffalo was left with a powerplay after the mini-brawl that broke out, and they made the Bruins pay. Christian Ehrhoff finally removed the monkey off his back when he blasted the puck right by a screened Tim Thomas to put the Sabres up 1-0. After Drew Stafford drew a penalty by charging to the net, Thomas Vanek scored his 12th of the year on the powerplay to put the Sabres up 2-0 at the end of the opening period.
The only bad news coming out of the first period was the loss of Brad Boyes. Boyes looked to have injured his ankle on a play in the Bruins zone, and Ruff didn’t sound too positive about Boyes diagnosis afterward. “You guys saw it….it’s going to be a period of time.”
Buffalo came out with the same intensity in the second period, but Boston was able to take control quickly. Tyler Seguin was left all alone by the faceoff circle during a Bruins powerplay and he was able to beat a sliding Jhonas Enroth to cut the Sabres lead to one. “It looked like Jhonas lost on edge,” Ruff said regarding the Seguin’s 12th goal of the season. “Normally, he would’ve been there, but something bad happened to him.”The Sabres almost regained their two goal lead almost as fast as the Bruins cut it in half, but Tim Thomas was there to stymie both Buffalo opportunities. The first attempt came on a golden opportunity for Vanek, but the Bruin netminder was able to get his stick on it, although Ruff thought it should’ve been a penalty. “I thought (Tim) Thomas got away with a little bit of a thrown stick on Thomas’ play.” The second chance came less than 30 seconds later when Stafford tried to backhand a puck from the slot past Thomas, but he was able to get a pad on the puck.
After looking like they were going to give up the tying goal, the Sabres were able to take advantage of a lucky bounce as Derek Roy’s shot was blocked, but went straight to the stick rookie call up T.J. Brennan who was able to bury the shot past Tim Thomas for his first career NHL goal in his first career game. It’s the first time since Lindy Ruff in 1979 that a Sabres defenseman scored in his NHL debut. Ruff was complimentary of his young defenseman’s play in his first game. “I thought it was good. For the most part, he kept it on the simple side.”
With just under four minutes to go in the second, Boston was able to take advantage of their own advantageous bounce as the puck went off Regehr’s skate right to Bruin forward Brad Marchand who put the puck top-shelf past a sprawling Enroth.
Late in the period, Drew Stafford was charging the net and clipped Tim Thomas which led to him having to drop the gloves against defenseman Andrew Ference. The third period was dominated from beginning to end by the Bruins. Chara scored just 3:35 into the third to tie the game for Boston. It was a shot that Chara didn’t realize had gone in until his teams began celebrating. From that point on, it seemed as if Buffalo was holding on to their opportunity to gain a point for dear life. The Sabres were outshot 12-8 in the third, but it felt like more as Boston spent about ¾ of the period in the Buffalo zone.
After a scoreless overtime the game went to a shootout. Both goaltenders were stellar, but it was Enroth who would give up the lone goal on Boston’s fifth shootout attempt as Beniot Puliot beat Jhonas high glove side to give the Bruins the win and the extra point.
A big positive to come out of tonight’s game was the play of Jochen Hecht. In his first game since April, Hecht played like he hadn’t missed a single night. “(Jochen) gave us one heck of a game,” Ruff said. “He was real reliable – made some nice plays. It was good to have him back in a game like tonight.”
Ruff did have one final message about his team’s performance tonight, “You play like that you’re gonna win a lot of games.”