Exactly three hours after the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts skated off the KeyBank Center ice following a 2-1 loss to the league-leading Minnesota Whitecaps, the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres hit the ice for a Saturday evening matchup against their Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins.
The Sabres didn’t have much better luck in the evening tilt, as they fell 3-2 in overtime to the Bruins after twice squandering a one-goal lead and failing to capitalize on several opportunities to increase their own lead.
Marco Scandella put the Sabres up just 4:40 into the first period with his second goal of the season. Jeff Skinner made several great moves right in front of the net and did everything but score; Rask put out a rebound, which Scandella pounced on and put in for the goal.
Scandella goal following up on Skinner's great effort— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) December 30, 2018
1-0 Buffalo pic.twitter.com/8H8WqQVVn4
The Bruins would tie the game near the midway point of the first period. After the puck came loose following a backhand shot from behind the net, Noel Acciari scooped it up and tucked it home to make it a 1-1 game.
Both teams successfully killed off a penalty later in the first period, but the Bruins had much better luck getting shots on net and were outshooting Buffalo 14-7 after the opening twenty minutes of play. The Sabres also struggled in the face-off circle in the first period, winning only 29% of the draws.
The Sabres, who entered the evening sixth in the league in penalty killing, had to put the PK to the test once again in second period. Just after Boston’s Torey Krug got called for tripping, Jack Eichel was served a double-minor for high-sticking Zdeno Chara. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
After Krug’s penalty was over and with the Sabres still on the penalty kill, it was none other than Johan Larsson who would turn the tide in Buffalo’s favor. Larsson got Rask diving to make a save and tucked it in just over the goaltender for the shorthanded tally to make it 2-1.
Larsson short handed goal— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) December 30, 2018
2-1 Buffalo pic.twitter.com/PiCa1DEj8N
The Sabres were outplayed in the first half of the third period, with Boston more than doubling them in shots and with a few good chances, including one by Danton Heinen that Rasmus Ristolainen got in front of. Buffalo also had several blatant turnovers, including a near-disastrous one from Casey Mittelstadt.
Fans clamored for a penalty as Sam Reinhart went down after an awkward skate-on-skate collision, but got none. Reinhart hobbled to the locker room but returned a few minutes later.
After a few missed calls on either side, Ristolainen was nabbed for kneeing with under four minutes to play. The Sabres, who had trouble generating energy as it was in the third period, now found themselves on a crucial penalty kill with just a few minutes left in the game.
This time, they were unsuccessful on the penalty kill as Jake DeBrusk tipped in a shot from Torey Krug to tie the game at two with 2:29 to play in regulation.
The Sabres didn’t register a shot on goal for the last 12:16 of regulation and were overall outshot 39-26 after sixty minutes of play, but managed to keep the game tied at two.
Just 34 seconds into the overtime period, the Sabres found themselves with a huge power-play opportunity as David Krejci was called for interference - but the Bruins were successful on the kill and held the Sabres to just one shot on the power play.
The Bruins won it with 1:16 to play in the overtime period on a goal by Sean Kuraly, capturing the 3-2 victory over the Sabres.
Lawrence Pilut was scratched Saturday night. Zemgus Girgensons also missed the game and is week-to-week with injury. Linus Ullmark was also out, with Scott Wedgewood recalled from Rochester to back up Carter Hutton.
The Sabres will close out the 2018 calendar year by hosting the New York Islanders - who beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-0 Saturday - for a 6 p.m. New Year’s Eve tilt.