The Buffalo Sabres’ 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins this evening was exactly the type of effort that separates a playoff team, from a pretender. In their second game in as many nights, the boys in blue-and-gold pushed through to the finish line, notching a late tally to seal the deal at TD Garden.
The first 12 minutes of the opening period were extremely even with both teams playing tough. Though neither side relented a goal in the first, the Bruins certainly had their fair share of opportunities, especially toward the end.
One of their chances resulted in a penalty-shot attempt for Ryan Donato, which Linus Ullmark was able to thwart with his right pad, stretching to make the stop.
In the second period, Jeff Skinner got the scoring started at the 3:18 mark. Jack Eichel was able to carry the puck behind the Boston net, tricking Steven Kampfer into retreating toward the front of the goal in coverage. Eichel then sent a no-look pass to Jeff Skinner on the left side of the cage where he was able to flip it home with a wide-open net.
The tally marked Skinner’s 23rd of the season, tying him with Patrik Laine for second-most in the NHL.
The Bruins were quick to respond with an equalizer when Kampfer scored a goal of his own exactly two minutes later.
Joakim Nordstrom circled deep in the Sabres zone before zipping a pass across the Buffalo defense to a wide-open Kampfer who registered his first tally of the season, bringing the score to 1-1.
Later on in the period, it appeared that Brad Marchand had given Boston the lead, but his tap-in was blown dead before crossing the goal-line. After a lengthy review the officials deemed the play... non-reviewable, leaving the game tied at one.
Linus Ullmark was the hero in the middle-frame, making several key saves to preserve the tie as the Sabres headed into the third period. That trend continued in the opening moments of the final frame as he made a ridiculous stretch-save, absolutely robbing Danton Heinen who received a perfect pass from Jakob Forsbacka out-front.
At 5:43, Eichel registered his 13th goal of the season with a gorgeous snipe to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead. After receiving a pass from Sam Reinhart near the blue line, the captain effortlessly glided down the right side, launching a shot past Tukka Rask’s glove-side.
At 13:21, Torey Krug evened thing up at 2-2, beating Ullmark, capitalizing on an excellent backhand pass from David Krejci. The goal marked Krug’s third of the season.
With under four minutes remaining in regulation, Jeff Skinner did what he does best, notching his second of the game (and the game-winner) to put the Sabres back in the driver’s seat. Reinhart gathered a dump-in near the left corner, finding Eichel behind the Bruins’ net. Eichel orchestrated another no-look pass right on the tape of Skinner’s stick out-front, sliding a shot past Rask on the far-side.
With 25 seconds remaining, Eichel buried an empty-net goal to seal the victory. Reinhart does deserve credit for his nifty little backhand pass to find Eichel after putting forth a strong second-effort to obtain possession of the puck.
The victory marks the Sabres’ 20th win of the season, improving their record to 20-9-5. It’s tough not to be happy with the team’s performance this weekend where they were able to secure three of a possible four points against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Buffalo is back on home ice this Tuesday as they host the Florida Panthers at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is at 7:00PM.
Final: Sabres 4, Bruins 2
Shots on Goal: Sabres 27 | Bruins 37
Sabres Goal Scorers: Jeff Skinner (23, 24), Jack Eichel (13, 14)
Bruins Goal Scorers: Kampfer (1), Krug (3)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Jack Eichel (2 G, 2A)
2. Jeff Skinner (2 G, GWG)
3. Linus Ullmark (31 Saves)