Sabres quieted by Rask, Bruins

Gionta

Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask shut out the Sabres on November 7th in Boston. In a Saturday matinee at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, he nearly completed three more scoreless periods against the Sabres en route to recording a 2-1 road victory. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci had the goals for the visiting Bruins. Evander Kane had the lone marker for the home team.

The Sabres were riding a 4-1-1 burst to pull to .500 coming in to the match with division rival Boston. Unlike the previous games with heroic scoring from Jack Eichel, the Sabres couldn’t break through the Bruins’ team defense. Rask came in to the game competing with Montreal’s Carey Price for the title of league’s best netminder with gaudy Vezina-like numbers (12-4, GAA of 1.64, S% of .938).

“We were sloppy with the puck, too cute with the puck,” Brian Gionta said. “We weren’t using our speed and being direct.”

Boston was able to keep Eichel off the scoreboard, often double-teaming him. The Sabres are 26-14-4 when Eichel records a point in a game and 10-3-1 when he tallies at least two. They are 11-22-7 when he does not register a point.

Boston’s game-winning goal of the game came on a strange scrum in front of the Buffalo net at 7:44 of the third period. Brad Marchand used the back of his hand to frisbee the puck across the crease. It then pin-balled off of David Pastrnak before Bergeron was able to knock in his 6th of the season. It didn’t stop the growing noise and momentum that had swung in Buffalo’s favor; not 90 seconds later, Evander Kane was able to take a neat feed from Sam Reinhart to halve the score. It was Kane’s long-awaited tally first of the season. Reinhart now has two goals and three assists in his last four games.

Through the first period, the Bruins played a perfect road game. Despite competing without their captain, Zdeno Chara, who missed his sixth consecutive game due to a lower body injury, the Bruins controlled the period and energy of the building. Boston out-attempted (25-13) and out-shot the Sabres (10-3) in the first period. In fact, the Sabres didn’t have a shot in the last 15 minutes of the period.

Boston kept the building quiet by taking a 1-0 lead at the 14:10 mark. Brandon Carlo’s shot from the point went through four bodies and was tipped by Krejci up over Lehner’s left shoulder. It was Krejci’s fourth of the year from Carlo and Backes.

The Sabres came close to tying the game at 17:10 of the second when Gionta kicked in a rebound from junior call-up Brendan Guhle’s point shot. He was tied up in the front of the net by Boston’s Colin Miller. The horn sounded and the music played but the call on the ice was ‘no goal’. After a minute of review, the replay upheld the initial call. Boos rained down from the home crowd but the score remained 1-0. It was an expression of the extra energy the Sabres had on both the fore-and back-check in the second period.

“We picked it up as the game went on. We had opportunities in the second and a lot more in the third. But we weren’t able to get more than one,” Kane said.

The Sabres look to get back on track Monday night in Washington against the Capitals at the Verizon Center.

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Steve Seide
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