February 24, 2012

Bruins shootout magic runs out against Miller, Sabres

By Jesse Connolly

Final: Buffalo 2, Boston 1 (SO)

Recap: After a fairly tame, scoreless first period, Buffalo scored the only goal of the middle frame. Andrej Sekera wristed home his third tally of the season past Tuukka Rask.

In the third, Boston finally got on the board when a Zdeno Chara bomb soared over Ryan Miller to make it 1-1. Neither team tallied in overtime, leading to yet another shootout for the Black and Gold.

David Krejci scored on the B’s first attempt, but Thomas Vanek tied things up and Derek Roy buried his fourth-round opportunity. Benoit Pouliot had a chance to knot things up but shot wide, giving Buffalo the extra point.

Records: Buffalo 27-27-1, 61 points; Boston 36-20-3, 75 points

Key Play of the Game: Buffalo had a chance to ice the game midway through overtime with Tuukka Rask out of position and a wide open net ready to be fired at. Thanks to Chara’s quick reflexes, the Sabres couldn’t cash in, as the 6-foot-9 blueliner got his stick in the way to block a shot just a few feet outside the crease.

Connolly’s Commendations: Gotta hand it to the fourth line in this one. They more than did their part to put every ounce of energy into their shifts – especially in the third period – and get the B’s back in the game. The trio of Greg Campbell, Dan Paille and Shawn Thornton had the Sabres pinned in their own end nearly every time Claude Julien put them out on the ice in the final frame.

Rask couldn’t get the job done in the shootout, but No. 40 undoubtedly put on his best performance in quite some time. The Finnish netminder stopped 26-of-27, allowing less than three goals for the first time in six starts.

Hats off to the captain for another bounce-back effort. Chara had a goal, a game-high 25:49 of ice time and a game-high three hits.

Chris Kelly capitalized on his increased ice time once again. While the center may have been held without a point, No. 23 helped generate plenty of chances, firing a game-high six shots on goal. He also led Boston with two blocked shots.

Connolly’s Critiques: Claude Julien again shortened his bench in the third period, but that won’t excuse Jordan Caron from being undeniably invisible in Friday’s setback. Apologies if you’ve heard this one before, but Caron had a completely listless night with no points, shots, hits or any other tangible stats.

Boston had too many chances to capitalize on special teams and blew it. The B's had four power plays to Buffalo's zero. The Bruins best chance came in OT, when they had 1:36 of 4-on-3 time to work with and couldn't do squat. 

Notes: The Bruins still haven’t won back-to-back games since Jan. 10-12. Buffalo has now evened the season series up at 2-2.

Final Thoughts: The Bruins certainly turned in a commendable performance in this one, even though this game may have lacked the intensity of previous matchups between these two clubs. Boston showed plenty of resilience to fight back and outshoot Buffalo 15-5 in the third period, making the point they earned a well-deserved one.

Next: No rest for the weary. The Bruins conclude their six-game road trip on Saturday night in Ottawa.