Finally tired of putting in a full effort and culling no results, the Bruins got their offense and power play on track while potting a whopping (for them anyway) four goals in a 4-2 win over the first-place Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.
The convincing win ‘ which saw the B’s snap off 37 shots on net ‘ ceased a three-game losing streak and gave Boston the same offensive output they had posted in the last five games combined. It also marked a return of the Big Bad Bruins snarl as Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves twice, and Mark Stuart engaged in a brawl at the tail end of the third period. This could be the start of a good rivalry between the Bruins and a hard-nosed Sabres bunch this season.
“Of course we’re looking for scoring and making goals, and it’s no secret you have to shoot the puck to get it in the net,” said Steve Begin, who was wearing the “A” on his sweater for the first time in Saturday night’s win. “That’s what we did tonight. The whole team put out a great effort, so that’s all I can say.
“Everything you saw tonight, that’s what we need to do. Great work from everybody. It’s easy when you stick with the game plan. You win games and it’s easy.
Perhaps it was a Bruins team simply getting ‘up’ for the first-place team in its division. Maybe it was the opportunity to torment a rookie goaltender, Jhonas Enroth, in his first NHL start. Regardless, the B’s managed to throw all kinds of offense at a Buffalo team that’s losing significant steam as of late after a solid first month.
The Bruins snapped an 0-for-20 rut on the power play with a pair of first-period strikes from Mark Recchi and Zdeno Chara to jump out to an early lead. Both Byron Bitz and Marco Sturm added to the lead in the second period with goals of their own, and the third period became the main card in Fight Night at the Garden.
The Sturm score was set up by Patrice Bergeron‘s mix of brawn and on-ice awareness, as the pivot dished back for a prototypical strike for the German forward. Sturm fired a laser past the 21-year-old Enroth, and snapped a 12-game scoreless streak for the left wing.
“A lot of guys were [breaking out of slumps], and it was nice to see this happening,” said Sturm. “We’ve waited a long time for this, so we were happy. But we still need to focus on the tough challenges.”
It was amazing how different the Bruins forward group looked breaking out of their end and bombarding the Buffalo attack zone with speed and aggression. That ideal combo showed in their offensive output, both when skating 5-on-5 and on special teams, where the B’s notched two power-play goals along with a handful of short-handed threats. The resurgent attack totaled 28 shots on goal after two periods, and generally looked like the team people thought they’d be when the season began.
Chara’s power-play goal also marked his first strike of the season in his 15th game after potting 19 goals last season. Chara’s strike on a long bomb from the right point stands as a positive sign that the man advantage is beginning to gain some traction after struggling so mightily over the last few weeks without Marc Savard.
YOU’RE THE BEST AROUND, NOTHING’S EVER GONNA GET YOU DOWN: The Bruins penalty kill has been off the charts since Claude Julien made some adjustments and inserted forwards like Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille. They did allow one power play goal in seven Buffalo opportunities on the night, but have killed 24 out of 26 penalties over the last nine games.
Special credit also goes out to cagey 41-year-old veteran Recchi for helping breathe life back into the power play with a tip of a Derek Morris shot for Boston’s first goal. Recchi’s willingness to mix it up in front of the cage between Buffalo defenders helped break the seal and kick-start the B’s offense.
GOAT HORNS: Buffalo didn’t show much life for a team attempting to make a statement within the division. The Sabre’s reckless style of pinching defensemen and going for broke opened up plenty of scoring chances for the Bruins, and the rookie goaltender took a few minutes to settle down. It adds to games in which the Sabres have been buried by the Islanders and Flyers as of late. Full credit goes to the Bruins for taking a solid win, but the Sabres receive demerits for their game Saturday night.