The Buffalo Sabres lost a close one against the Boston Bruins Saturday night at TD Garden, but unlike most nights, it was the officiating throughout the game that was the leading cause in the team’s loss.
Loui Eriksson was able to give the Bruins the 1-0 lead with just 7:38 remaining in the first period. Cody Franson attempted to play the puck up the middle of the ice, but it was intercepted by Bruins center David Krejci. A tick-tack-toe passing play by the Bruins left Eriksson all alone in front of an empty net, and he was able to slide the puck past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner for his 16th of the season. Although the Sabres were trailing at the end of the first, they played a strong period, and kept the game close. Buffalo kept the shot totals relatively close, outhit the Bruins, and were able to stop the highly ranked Boston power play on two separate occasions.
The Sabres tied the game just over ten minutes into the second period when Sam Reinhart backhanded the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. The puck bounced off the skates of a number of Bruins skaters, somehow ending up on the stick of Reinhart, who scored his 14th of the season. Ryan O’Reilly was credited with an assist on the goal, his 26th of the season, extending his point streak to three games.
The third period would come and go, and although it was full of end-to-end action, neither team would be able to put the puck in the back of the net, and the game would still be tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. The Sabres outshot the Bruins in the third, but both goaltenders stood their ground in the period, stopping every shot that came their way.
Half way through the overtime period, Bruins forward Brad Marchand was coming in on goal, and was chased by Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Marchand hit Ristolainen’s stick out of his hand, but the referee thought that Ristolainen had thrown his stick at Marchand, awarding a penalty shot on a play that probably should not have been a penalty. Of course, Marchand lifted the puck past Lehner, giving the Bruins the 2-1 win.
Obviously, the biggest story coming out of this game is the wrongfully awarded penalty shot to Brad Marchand. Although Ristolainen was pushing Marchand from behind, the most that should have been called on the play was a penalty. Instead, Marchand was awarded a penalty shot, and he ended the season series between the Sabres and Bruins with his 24th goal of the season.
Robin Lehner had a strong outing in the loss, stopping 36 out of the Bruins 38 shots. Lehner gave the Sabres an opportunity to win the game, and was visibly upset following Marchand’s penalty shot-goal in overtime. Lehner’s performance was good enough to earn him the third star of the game.
The Sabres special teams had a decent night, stopping the Bruins power play on three occasions, but failed to score on four different power plays. The Bruins came into the game with the second highest power play percentage in the league, but the Ryan O’Reilly-led Sabres penalty kill was able to shut them down every time they were on the ice. The Sabres power play, however, was not as successful as the penalty kill, and didn’t create any great scoring opportunities in their eight minutes of ice time.
Rasmus Ristolainen led the team in ice time, being on the ice for nearly 26 minutes throughout the game. Ristolainen finished the game with five shots and two blocked shots, but unfortunately, his performance will remembered for the botched penalty shot call in overtime.
The next time Buffalo takes the ice will be Tuesday night at the First Niagara Center as the Sabres take on the Florida Panthers, who lead the season series against the Sabres 2-1.