On a night where the Bruins played with heavy hearts, and the TD Garden was filled with so much emotion, the Sabres showed up to play in the first sporting even in Boston since the Monday bombings of The Boston Marathon.
Prior to the game, there was a wonderful tribute paid to the victims of Monday’s horrific events. American flags were strewn amongst the crowd, and a chant “Let’s Go Bruins” rang out in the arena. A moment of silence was had for the victims, families, and first responders while an illuminated Boston Strong ribbon was on the ice. This was followed by a montage of photos and the playing of Phillips Phillips, “Home”.
Rene Rancourt, the world famous Bruins anthem singer was announced, and sang the first few cords of the national anthem. He then turned off the mic, and let the crowd sing the rest of the song on their own. It was one of the loudest I have ever heard an arena, and it became even louder with the chants of “USA, USA, USA” up to the opening faceoff. Goosebumps could not describe it, and even NBC announcer Doc Emrick had difficulty speaking without a squeak in his voice.
With a true lack of offense from both teams in the first five minutes, Boston forward Chris Kelly outworked Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, and then Mike Weber in the corner and fed Daniel Paille in front of the net. Paille wasted no time snapping the puck over the right shoulder of Ryan Miller on just the Bruins second shot of the game, at 5:45, for his 9th of the season.
Pysyk was again able to draw another penalty on Zdeno Chara for interference at 17:44. Ehrhoff made an amazing keep in on a clearing attempt, and then was able to feed a shot to Thomas Vanek in front of the net a few seconds later. Vanek deflected the puck past Anton Khudobin for a power play tally at 18:20 which was his 17th. Miller was outstanding keeping Sabres in the game through the period, making 11 saves on 12 shots. Khudobin stopped 8 of 9 for the Bruins.
The second period started with the Sabres controlling the forecheck early. Kevin Porter had a glorious opportunity in the slot around the four minute mark, only bested by the quick leather of Anton Khudobin making a highlight real save.
At the 14:48 mark, Paille fed the puck across the net to Chris Kelly, who was able to work the puck over the stick of Christian Ehrhoff and over the pad of a sprawling Ryan Miller, for his 3rd goal of the season.
The third period started with an early penalty for hooking on Boston forward Patrice Bergeron called at :49, putting the Sabres on the power play. Buffalo could not get anything going, and gave up two quality scoring chances to Daniel Paille, followed up by Brad Marchand.
With the empty net, the Sabres had a 6 on 4. Cody Hodgson was able to come through in front, deflecting a pass from Thomas Vanek that came from the side wall with only 27 seconds left on the clock. The goal was Hodgson’s 14th, coming on the power play. Anton Khudobin made 25 saves on 27 shots in regulation, and Ryan Miller 37 saves on 39 shots.
In overtime, Miller and Khudobin were both perfect. Miller was was huge for Buffalo, making numerous close quarter saves to force the shootout. In the last :30 seconds, Mike Weber and Adam Pardy made good quality defensive plays to keep the puck away from Miller. Weber ended up taking a penalty with :03 seconds left for closing hand on the puck.
Onto the shootout, and the goalies would continue to impress. Miller stopped all three Boston shooters, Seguin, Bergeron, and Marchand. Khudobin stopped Vanek and Gerbe, however Stafford was able to snap one through the pads of the Boston net minder in round three for the win and the all important two points.
In a game that the Sabres needed to win to get within two points of 8th place, they showed up and played in the first period. The problem was, as it has been most of the year, they failed to show up and pay for a full 60 minutes. The Bruins dominated the game starting at the half way point of the second, with the Sabres pulling out a late goal in the third to tie it up and go to overtime. The Sabres stole a point from the first place team in the Eastern Conference, on a night that was theirs to have for the city of Boston.
Lastly, in a show of full class, both teams gathered at center ice and saluted the crowd. Putting their differences aside for the greater cause, and coming together at center ice as the crowd chanted “USA, USA.” Made for an emotional end, to an emotional night.