Enduring defeat last week to the Sabres, the Bruins weren't about to be victimized for the second time. Boston had a cause to skate for, scoring three unanswered tallies to pick up a win which puts them in sixth place. Taking hits, keeping sticks active and getting shots on goal, they competed with the hunger of a team hopeful for a bottom playoff seed.
Although the shot count was nearly even, Buffalo didn't mind being pushed aside for loose pucks and losing foot races because their ranking is locked up. They had plenty of possession but, especially after going behind, turned too little of it into clear-cut chances. A fortuitous Derek Roy break-away goal was the lone bright spot which padded statistics, nothing more. In New York, the Rangers are thinking why we couldn't hurt Boston as we did them.
Depending on other teams to do your work never pans out.
Ten additional thoughts on the game:
- While Buffalo's forwards and defensemen had no reason to push themselves, Patrick Lalime certainly did as this will be his last section of work. Ryan Miller's rest ceases come the postseason and the back-up netminder is expected to start once more over the weekend.
- Respected fighter Shawn Thornton wanted to engage into a fight with Paul Gaustad in the first period. Unobliging, Gaustad's decision to keep his gloves on was the wise choice because Buffalo held a 1-0 lead and it could have given Boston momentum. Were both teams vying for a playoff spot, I'm sure Thornton's challenge would be accepted but there's no sense in risking injury prior to the postseason.
- Denis Wideman's loss of control handed Roy the puck and Tuukka Rask couldn't get his glove on the shot. Making amends later on, the defenseman scored the pivotal game-winner and closed off Drew Stafford's rush near the boards with a nice body-check. I didn't hear the Bruins faithful booing his presence after that.
- Our former goal-poacher, Miroslav Satan still has a touch of grace left in his hands. The Slovakian found space upon a broken play and opened Lalime up for a five-hole finish. A forward has to pick up the offensive slack for Boston in these remaining games. With three goals in as many contests, it might as well be one of only two players on the club to have ever reached 40 goals.
Mark Mancari quarterbacked the powerplay but didn't generate much in the way of shooting. Similarly, Jason Pominville played a point position in his rookie year for his vision and knowledge whereas Mancari is there for his howitzer.
Andrej Sekera and Chris Butler both finished with a minus-one rating and sat in the penalty box once. Do either of them want that sixth-defenseman position?
- Boston should count their blessings; Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, Patrick Kaleta, Jochen Hecht and Craig Rivet sat out for this critical match, for the Bruins anyway. A lot of firepower was missing that had the capabilities to dismantle the opposition.
- Lindy Ruff balanced the ice time of the three youngsters, Mancari, Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe, evenly with each playing anywhere between 12 to 14 minutes. Matt Ellis received the short-end of that stick in just 10:35 of time.
Steve Begin threw six of the 19 total hits Boston totaled while Thornton and Vladimir Sobotka had three apiece. That Lucic fella was credited with one measly check. Mancari's three hits led the way for Buffalo and Kaleta is shaking his head somewhere.
- Rask's cool presence saved what has been an unpredictable year for Boston because of an offense that dropped off from a season ago and Tim Thomas' fall to mediocrity. The Finn will have a new task at hand in the playoffs where his experience reads 'none'.
Winning is always swell, but Buffalo's reward for doing so would've been just a bonus. Boston took advantage of an uninterested and cut-down squad to widen their playoff hopes. To the victor go the spoils.