Buffalo’s struggles continued at home Thursday night as Ryan Spooner scored the lone goal in the shootout, going top shelf past Johnson to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 OT/shootout win for the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center. All three Sabres shooters: Brian Gionta, Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly couldn’t get one past Tuukka Rask.
Buffalo earned a point, but this is one of those games where they should’ve had two. Their inability to seal the deal in games like these is what separates them from playoff-caliber teams. They’re now a league-worst 9-15-3 at home.
“In the end, we had our chances, so it’s a little frustrating,” said Sam Reinhart after the game.
In the opening period, Evander Kane got the Sabres on the board first, with his 12th of the season. After Gionta rang one of the post, the line kept at it, cycling the puck around. Eventually Gionta set up Kane who put one behind Rask. The Kane-Larsson-Gionta line played well all night.
You gotta love a feisty Sam Reinhart. In a David vs. Goliath battle, the 6’1”, 189 lb. Reinhart battled with the 6’9”, 250 lb. Chara in front of Rask and gained good position. When Mark Pysyk sent a floater toward the net from the point, Reinhart got his stick on it, tapping the puck past Rask for his 13th of the year. The goal put the Sabres up 2-0 despite having just six shots on goal.
The Bruins, one of the league’s best road teams, quickly answered, cutting Buffalo’s lead in half, 2-1. After stopping the initial shot from the point, Chad Johnson couldn’t hold onto the rebound. The puck bounced around in front of Johnson and instead of taking out a body, Eichel tried find the puck between his legs. Ryan Spooner found it faster, leaving him an easy tap-in goal for his 11th of the year.
Early in the third, Brad Marchand tied the game up at two apiece. He raced down the right side, cleanly beat Zach Bogosian, then threw a wicked backhand past Johnson, short side. Granted it was a really nice play by the speedy Marchand, but Bogosian must take him out wide, and more importantly, Johnson has to make that save. It was Marchand’s eighth goal in his last eight games and 23rd of the season. He’s now tied for 7th most goals in the NHL. “There’s no other way to look at it, it’s not a good goal, I don’t know if it caught him by surprise,” added Coach Bylsma after the game.
Both teams had a power play in overtime. Chad Johnson robbed Bergevin on the goal line with a glove save, and similarly, Rask made a great save on O’Reilly with :39 left in OT.
Evander Kane was a force in the game for Sabres. He was all over the ice, with a whopping ten shots in regulation. Marchard and Bergeron were the Bruins’ best players. Per usual in Buffalo, the crowd booed Chara every time he touched the puck.
Late in the third period, Marcus Foligno collided in the corner with Colin Miller and went down awkwardly. He did not return.
The Sabres and Bruins finish their home-and-home series on Saturday in Boston. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at TD Garden.