The Buffalo Sabres headed into tonight’s game versus the Boston Bruins, looking for a huge victory to boost their playoff hopes.
The game began with many fans and media wondering when the fisticuffs would begin. As the first period would play out, not only would fights not occur but there was not much physical play either. Both the Sabres and Bruins would get their respective scoring chances but neither team was able to score in the first period. This was the first time in six games that the Sabres had not scored in the first period.
Heading into the second period, one would figure that the game would pick up in intensity. That thought, oddly enough, would be incorrect. Throughout the first ten minutes of the period, both teams again got their opportunities but neither side could put the first tally on the board. Then at 14:45 in the second period, Andrej Sekera followed up on a play and was left alone in the slot where he scored his third goal of the season, from Ennis and Stafford, to put Buffalo up 1-0.
The third period would be a very quiet one for the Sabres. They came out and throughout the first few minutes it seemed as if the team was only protecting their lead, mostly due to their lackadaisical play. A lot of the period was spent in the Sabres zone, evident by the lopsided shot differential, which saw Boston tally 15 shots to Buffalo’s 5.
Early in the third period, the Bruins tied the game after Mike Weber blocked a Zdeno Chara shot, which was then passed back to Chara by Derek Roy, who was attempting to clear the aforementioned blocked shot. Chara’s ninth goal of the year knotted the game up.
As the time in the third period dwindled, the intensity did turn up a little but nothing was to come of it.
Heading into overtime, tied at one, the Sabres had to play almost perfect hockey because they were in the process of killing off the rest of Thomas Vanek’s high sticking penalty.
The overtime came and went, with the Sabres outshooting the Bruins, 4-3. With the score still tied, the game would head to a shootout.
Boston would strike first when David Krejci scored on a backhand, putting the Bruins up 1-0.
Thomas Vanek would be the next shooter for the Sabres and he would not disappoint. Vanek approached Tuukka Rask and shot one of his patented shootout slapshots, and tied the shootout at 1.
Neither side would score again until it was Derek Roy’s turn for redemption.
Roy skated in and cleanly had Rask beat on a backhand, putting Buffalo up 2-1.
Benoit Pouliot would try to tie the game and continue the shootout for the Bruins but his wrist shot went wide of the net, giving the Sabres a 2-1 shootout victory.
“It was real great to see Roy respond in the shootout,” said Lindy Ruff, Sabres head coach. “I think tonight was as good as I’ve seen Roy play in a long time.”
This win puts Buffalo into 11th place with 61 points. The Sabres trail Washington and Toronto by 4 points for 9th place and trail Florida by 5 points for 8th place.
“We needed the extra point tonight,” said Ruff. “We’ve got a ways to go but our sights are set on eighth place.”
The Buffalo Sabres play again tomorrow night at the Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. The puck drops at 7pm and the game will be broadcast on MSG.