The Buffalo Sabres have climbed four spots in the last week or so and now find themselves five points out of a playoff spot with 21 games left to play in the season. The latest victory saw the Sabres getting a 2-1 shootout victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night in front of a sold out First Niagara Center.
In what seemed like a tamer version of the Boston/Buffalo rivalry, the Sabres and Bruins had two very listless periods to start the game. The Sabres got the scoring started in the second period on an Andrej Sekera shot from the faceoff dot. Sekera was all by himself after Tyler Ennis found him from behind the net and put a good pass on Sekera's stick. The goal is Sekera's third of the season and his first points since February 8th.
The Bruins were able to tie the game in the third period on a Zdeno Chara shot that just blew past Ryan Miller. Chara was pretty much left alone after
Jordan Leopold Derek Roy threw a bad pass right to Chara. The goal is Chara's ninth of the season and his ninth career goal versus the Sabres in 69 career games.
In the shootout, Ryan Miller was able to stop Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, and Benoit Pouliot while Derek Roy scored the game winning goal as the fourth shooter. Thomas Vanek was the only other Sabre to convert while Nathan Gerbe and Jason Pominville both missed.
Ryan Miller and Tuukka Rask were both solid goaltenders in net as the Bruins were able to throw 35 shots on net and the Sabres were able to get 27 shots toward Rask. The game is a bit of redemption for Rask as he was shelled in the last meeting between these two teams on February 8th. Rask was pulled in the second period after allowing three goals on ten shots in the Bruins 6-0 loss to the Sabres.
Head coach Lindy Ruff thought this game didn't have to be as close as it was for the Sabres:
"I think we got on our heels there in the third, and part of that had to do with penalties. But, I thought we dug in and blocked some good shots. We threw our bodies in front of a couple. I thought if were would have put away some of those rushed chances, the two on ones, it wouldn't have been that close because I thought we had the higher quality. We just didn't take advantage of some key situations."
More player specific stuff after the jump
- The Boston Bruins had four power plays on the night. The Sabres didn't get any. The Bruins had their first penalty free game since January 27, 2004 against the New York Islanders. While some of the calls could have been debatable, Ruff said it best during the postgame press conference:
"I would have like to have seen a couple calls go our way that didn't but some nights you get them, some nights you don't. We didn't get any tonight. I think we have to keep working to try and draw penalties, keep your feet moving. I think two or three of them that we got were deserved. When you go through the game, you are probably going to see three or four I think maybe they could have been called. At the same time, we've had a few games where it's gone our way too."
- While Derek Roy breaks the four game point streak, he still had the game winning goal in the shootout and put together a relatively solid performance. He also botched a solid two on one opportunity as it was he and Thomas Vanek streaking into the neutral zone and Roy decided to try and pass it to Vanek instead of shooting the puck. Roy finished the game with only one shot on goal in 20:25 of ice time.
- Corey Tropp played 9:21 in his first game being called up to replace Brad Boyes in the lineup. Tropp had three shots on goal, all coming in the first period, and also took two tripping penalties early in the game. Tropp's ice time decreased as the game went on, 3:27 in the first, 4:05 in the second, and 1:49 in third/overtime. Tropp is expected to travel with the team tonight and could be in the lineup again if Boyes can't play against the Rangers.
The Sabres travel to New York to take on the Rangers who lost to the Islanders in a shootout on the island tonight as well.