Too many penalties and lack of a forecheck did the Sabres in as they were shutout, 4-0 by the Bruins Monday night in TD Garden. Tuukka Rask recorded his second shutout of the season and seventh win in eight games. It was a relatively easy 32-save effort for him as the Sabres had limited quality chances. The 299th consecutive sellout crowd cheered on as Claude Julien’s celebrated the 400th win of his Bruins coaching career.
Before the game, Dan Bylsma noted the Bruins’ power play was dangerous despite its numbers. Operating at less than eight percent, it came into the night having scored only three goals all season. They doubled that output tonight, lighting the lamp three times with the man advantage.
With the Sabres shorthanded most of the second period, the Bruins made them pay. Boston dominated the frame, scoring two power play goals and one even strength goal, to stake itself to a 3-0 lead. They never gave Buffalo a chance to get in the game.
“It wasn’t the game we wanted, we need to get on the board early, it changes the momemtum for us.” – Ryan O’Reilly
Five minutes into the second, Brad Marchand opened the scoring for Boston. The play started when Pastrnak prevented Girgensons from clearing the puck. With Dmitry Kulikov failing to clear Matt Belesky in front of the net, Marchand picked up a loose puck and flung it on net. It went off Lehner’s mask and stick and into the net.
Zemgus Girgensons caught David Backes in mouth with a nasty backhanded high stick and got four minutes in the sin bin. Good news for his dentist. Bad news for Buffalo. Shortly later, Jake McCabe took down David Pastrnak then angrily slammed his stick, earning himself an additional two minute misconduct and giving the Bruins a 5-on-3.
David Krejci’s first of the season put the Bruins up 2-0. With a clear lane, he teed one up from the top of the circle that beat Lehner stick side.
Brian Gionta had the chance to cut the lead in half on a shorthanded breakaway chance, but Rask made a big save. A goal there would have changed the momentum of the game.
The Bruins extended their lead to 3-0 off a bad giveaway by Kulikov. Beleskey’s forecheck created the turnover. With Lehner screened, Nash snapped off a shot and the puck bounced off Kulikov’s skate into the back of the net. Nash was credited with an unassisted goal, his first with the Bruins.
In the third period, David Pastrnak fired home a rebound of an Austin Czarnik point shot for the Bruins’ third power play goal of the night and a four goal Bruins lead.
Red-hot Robin Lehner, 3-1 in his last four starts and allowing just five goals in them couldn’t be faulted tonight. He made several huge saves, stopping 38 of 42 shots.
Overall, it was an odd night for the Sabres as they never found their groove. Rarely in the penalty box, Ryan O’Reilly was called for two penalties. Also, the Sabres recorded their first fight of the year. After Derek Grant pushed Marchand into the net, Beleskey took exception. He missed Grant with two haymakers, while Grant landed one while falling.
The Sabres will need to put this behind them quickly. They return home for a game against the Ottawa Senators at KeyBank Center on Wednesday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. EST.