The Buffalo Sabres came into Friday night’s game at KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo having won their last 5 games at home and looking to rebound from a tough regulation loss the game prior. The opposing Boston Bruins would play spoiler in this matchup, however, blanking the Sabres en route to a 3-0 shutout victory.
The Bruins, who currently hold the 3rd-best overall record in the entire NHL, controlled play convincingly for much of the first two periods in this game. While the Sabres had their chances against Boston’s backup goalie and one-time Sabres netminder Jaroslav Halak, it was the Bruins who struck first, with Patrice Bergeron opening the scoring in the beginning frame with 21.3 seconds remaining in the period.
Ex-Bruin Marcus Johansson was the guilty party who took the penalty that led to Bergeron’s power-play goal for the Bruins, courtesy of a tic-tac-toe setup from David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
It was the same line for the Bruins who would score the only goal of the second period, once again potting the goal with barely any time to spare, this one coming again from Bergeron with just 1:34 to play in the middle frame. Marchand and Pastrnak picked up their second assists of the night on the goal to put Boston up 2-0 off a costly turnover by Sabres forward Jimmy Vesey.
The third period saw the Sabres come to life a bit, actually outshooting the Bruins 10-5 in the final frame. They would end with nothing to show for it, however, as Boston again had the only goal of the period, an empty-net goal from defenseman Brandon Carlo to seal the deal at 3-0.
To add insult to injury, Sabres forward Jeff Skinner left the game early in the third period, after colliding with Pastrnak on what should have been a routine body check. Skinner did not return, and after being evaluated, was determined to be out for 3-4 weeks with an upper-body injury.
Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves to record his 3rd shutout of the 2019-20 campaign, and the 50th of his career, while Patrice Bergeron notched 2 goals for the third straight game.
The shutout loss snapped a 5-game home winning streak for the Sabres, who fall to 17-15-7 on the year after suffering their second straight regulation loss. Buffalo is 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, and sit at 5th in the Atlantic Division, still just 1 point back of a playoff spot from the third-place Montreal Canadiens.
Both the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins have one day off before meeting again on Sunday at TD Garden to close out the second half of their home-and-home series in a crucial tilt before the new year, with puck drop set for 7 pm ET.