Entering their final game before the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Bruins were looking to put forth a solid performance against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night as the team made the trip north to KeyBank Center. Fresh off a disappointing 5-2 loss at home to the New Jersey Devils Thursday, Boston could hardly afford to drop points against the division-rival Sabres, who entered the evening with a three-point cushion on the Black and Gold.
The Sabres got off to a quick start with a goal from Marco Scandella just 4:40 into the first period. The goal came off a hard drive from Jeff Skinner who broke in on a partial break on goaltender Tuukka Rask before Scandella could knock in the second attempt.
The Bruins wouldn't let the Buffalo lead stand for long. Before the period was half over Noel Acciari had tallied his first goal of the season, knocking home a loose puck in front, the result of a Kevan Miller drive down the left wall of the offensive zone.
Neither team would manage another goal in the period, despite chances at both ends of the ice. Boston outshot Buffalo 14-7 in the period.
Upping the Pace
The pace of the game would pick up noticeably in the second frame, as netminders at each end of the ice were tested often. Penalties to Torey Krug (tripping) and Jack Eichel (high-sticking double minor) would test special teams and four-on-four play.
During the Eichel double minor on Zdeno Chara, it would be the Sabres that would capitalize on a prime opportunity 2-on-1 against David Pastrnak, who was the last skater back when Krug was caught pinching in the offensive zone. Evan Rodrigues would slip a pass towards the hashmarks where Johan Larsson was waiting to give his team a 2-1 lead.
The score would hold through 40 minutes, with Carter Hutton making just seven saves in the period to keep his team in the lead. Buffalo registered 14 of their own, bring the shots for each team after two periods to 21 a-piece.
Refusing to Give
The Bruins would come out in the third period like a team that was hungry to get back even with the Sabres. A flurry of chances throughout the final 20 minutes of regulation struggled to convert into results. It took a penalty to Rasmus Ristolainen with 3:43 left in the period for Boston to get the chance that finally tied the game.
Less than a minute into the power play Krug would curl the top of the circle with the puck, tossing a wrist shot on net that was tipped in front by Jake DeBrusk. With the tip so close to Hutton, the Sabre goaltender was unable to react in time to make a save.
It wasn't looking good for Boston early on in OT when David Krejci was called for interference on Skinner just 34 seconds into the three-on-three session.
However, the Bruins were able to kill off the penalty, with Rask staying strong in net, making at least one crucial save on former Bruin Vladimir Sobotka.
After the kill the play would shift back and forth until a rush from Sean Kuraly sealed the deal. Kuraly would take the puck through the neutral zone, blasting through the Sabres defense, and then following up his initial shot and getting his stick on the puck to toss the rebound top shelf before Hutton was able to recover from the initial attempt.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres 18-5 in the third period and 3-2 in overtime, outshooting the Sabres in the game by a final of 42-28.
The Bruins travel to South Bend, Indiana to participate in the 2019 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium. Puck drop is set for 1pm EST on January 1st.
Photo: (Boston Bruins via Twitter)