Spoonful of defeat

After going up 2-0 in a nearly perfect 1st period, the Buffalo Sabres would end up on the wrong end of the first game of a home-and-home series against the Boston Bruins.

Only 35 games in to the season, the Sabres already found themselves in a virtual ‘must win game’. Heading into Thursday’s game, the Sabres sat only six points behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with three games at hand- a favorable place to be in with the next two games against the team they’re trying to catch in the standings.

The Sabres, recognizing the magnitude of such a game, came out with a purpose in the first period. Just 1:32 in, Jack Eichel fed Marcus Foligno a pass from the half-wall for a beautiful one-time snap shot to give the Sabres the early 1-0 lead. Eichel and Foligno would continue to show newfound chemistry throughout the rest of the period.

The Sabres, playing with speed and poise in the offensive zone, also brought a much needed physical aspect to their game. The Sabres out-hit the Bruins 14-5 in the opening period. One of the more notable hits, was a hit-to-the-head on David Backes by Will Carrier. Backes, known for his grit and toughness, would not return to the game.

Bruins defensemen Adam McQuaid quickly went after Carrier on his next shift. Both got a few shots in as the refs desperately tried to stop a legitimate fight from actually breaking out. Regardless, the Sabres had the momentum, something they’ve struggled to manufacture all year in 1st periods.

That momentum would carry into a Sabres’ power play, where Kyle Okposo scored on a blistering wrist-shot from the slot, for his 10th goal of the season. The Sabres, for the 2nd game in a row, jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

The 2nd period was all Boston. Though the Sabres continued to draw penalties and generate scoring chances, they were too sloppy in their own zone and on the power play. Lehner came up with a couple huge saves on Sabres’ power plays, one in particular was Dominic Moore’s breakaway in the first period.

Patrice Bergeron got things going for Boston early in the 2nd period, scoring on a one-timer that developed out of a set play from a face-off win. The Sabres still maintained composure after the goal, but would give the Bruins life on multiple power plays.

David Krejci scored his eighth goal of the year on the power play with just under four minutes to go in the second period. Tied at 2, it was clear that the had tide tilted. The Bruins did not look back.

The third period wasn’t necessarily dominated by Boston offensively, but one where they picked their spots wisely. Both teams traded unsuccessful power play opportunities, and it seemed that maybe this game would head to overtime. With just under four minutes to go yet again, Ryan Spooner scored a timely goal to give the Bruins their first lead of the game. That would be the nail in the coffin, as the Sabres struggled to maintain any amount of pressure in the offensive zone for the remaining couple of minutes.

Spooner would again score on an empty-net, putting the icing on the cake for the Bruins and bringing reality crashing down on the Sabres.

The Sabres yet again found a disappointing way to lose a game, this one a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. Now eight points behind Boston, the Sabres’ hopes for playoffs are starting to look more and more bleak.

The Sabres will get another opportunity for two points against the Bruins on Sunday at the TD Garden in Boston at 1 p.m.