Benoit Pouliot wins it for Bruins… of course
|11.23.11 at 10:00 pm ET|
Benoit Pouliot wasn’t the Bruins’ first choice in the shootout Wednesday night, but he proved to be the only one who could score as he extended the Bruins’ winning streak to 10 games with a 4-3 victory over the Sabres Wednesday at First Niagara Center.
Whether Pouliot would even play Wednesday was in question after he racked up six unnecessary penalty minutes Monday against Montreal, but after Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, who entered the night undefeated in five shootouts, stopped Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, Claude Julien went with Pouliot in what proved to be a game-winning decision.
The Sabres were seeking vengeance after Milan Lucic‘s hit on Ryan Miller on Nov. 12 left the Buffalo goaltender concussed on a play that saw no response from his teammates. Paul Gaustad did his best at responding Wednesday, dropping the gloves on Lucic’s first shift but falling to the Bruins’ left wing in Lucic’s first fight in his last 25 regular season games.
Though the Sabres didn’t completely get back at Lucic, they did get on the board first. With Lucic in the box on a questionable roughing call, Christian Ehrhoff beat Tim Thomas on the power play to make it 1-0.
Minutes later, Bruins killer Thomas Vanek did his latest damage on the power play, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead that they held until Seguin beat Enroth on a one-timer in the second period to get the Bruins on the board. T.J. Brennan, who was playing in his first career NHL game, picked up his goal at 11:02 of the second to make it 3-1, but goals from Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara wiped out Buffalo’s lead.
The Bruins will next play Friday, when they host the Red Wings at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– After not registering a point in the Bruins’ first six games, Chara has three goals and 12 assists for 15 points over the last 14 games. He’s on a better pace this season than he was a season ago, as the giant defenseman had 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) over his first 20 games last season. Chara was an assist shy of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
– The Bruins successfully executed a massive penalty kill late in regulation and early in overtime after David Krejci took a hooking penalty with 1:03 remaining in the third period. Julien used Chris Kelly, Chara, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg for the 5-on-4, with Chara and Campbell both blocking shots. Chara, Bergeron, and Seidenberg then played the first 57 seconds of overtime to kill off the 4-on-3.
– Seguin now has more goals this season (12) than he did as a rookie. It’s taken the 19-year-old just 20 games to do what he did in 74 games last season, so if for some reason you needed to be convinced that the young forward has made huge strides this season, that should do it.
Seguin’s goal, which got the Bruins on the board in the second period, was an absolute laser that the second-year player took upon receiving the feed from Patrice Bergeron. The fact that he was placed in the hardest shot competition in last year’s All-Star game festivities raised some eyebrows at the time, but just as he did last season in Carolina with a 97.1 mile-an-hour bomb, Seguin showed his slapshot shouldn’t be taken lightly.
– The Bruins responded Wednesday in a way the Sabres simply didn’t on Nov. 12. After Brad Marchand threw a big hit on Nathan Gerbe, Gaustad came in and took a run at the second-year forward in the corner of the Sabres’ zone. Marchand’s teammates came to his defense, creating a big scrum that led to a fight between Chara and Robyn Regehr.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Ehrhoff’s goal ended Thomas’ shutout streak at 145:00, and Wednesday marked the fifth time this season that the defending Vezina winner has allowed three goals in a game. He didn’t have much of a chance on Brennan’s goal, and may have been screened on Ehrhoff’s shot, but the fact that the 37-year-old has yet to turn in a bad game this season is a very good sign. Thomas made a gigantic save on Roy with the B’s shorthanded in overtime and stopped Gerbe with about a minute remaining in OT. He stopped Vanek, Gerbe, Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford.
– Some iffy officiating in the first period. Lucic was sent off for roughing halfway through the period when he finished his check along the boards on Jason Pominville. Both that penalty and a Seidenberg hooking call led to Sabres’ power play goals. On the scrum that followed Guastad’s hit on Marchand, the Bruins surprisingly wound up shorthanded, giving the Sabres yet another power play (they had four in the period). It was clear heading into Wednesday that the league was going to keep on eye on the two teams, but the B’s took the brunt of it in the first 20 minutes.
– More of the same from Vanek against Boston. With five goals and three assists, Vanek now has eight points in his last five games against the Bruins.