The Boston Bruins split their two most recent games with the Buffalo Sabres up in Buffalo. After a relatively strong 5-1 win on Thursday, the Bruins were upset by the Sabres 6-4 on Friday evening. The Bruins still lead the Sabres 5-1 in the season series, but dropping any games to this Buffalo team is a bad look. Leaving points on the board when playing a generationally bad team like the Sabres has the potential to hurt the team down the line.
Heading into Thursday, the Bruins were riding a 5 game winning streak and playing some of their best hockey of the season. They had just beaten the Sabres in a 2-0 win, so spirits were high as they geared up for their next game in Buffalo. Brad Marchand would open the scoring with a tap-in rebound goal off of a Mike Reilly point shot 12 minutes into the first. The score would remain 1-0 heading into the second after the Bruins were dominant for the most part in the first. Buffalo was not ready to give in however, as Arttu Ruotsalainen scored a tip-in goal to tie the game 5:27 into the second. The Bruins seemed to be on edge for a bit, as the Sabres seemed to be gaining momentum and getting back into the game, but Matt Grzelcyk would answer the bell and take the lead back for the Bruins with a wrister from the point that knuckled past Buffalo netminder Dustin Tokarski.
Grzelcyk’s 4th goal of the season would prove to be the game winner, as the B’s would score 3 unanswered goals in the third to pull away from the Sabres. David Pastrnak, Nick Ritchie, and David Krejci were the goal scorers as the Bruins won their 5th straight against Buffalo. The Bruins were anchored in net by Jeremy Swayman who was once again dominant, saving 29 of 30 shots as he improved his NHL record to 5-1 on the season. The Bruins dominated the third period but weren’t dominant for three whole periods which is somewhat concerning considering their opponent, but at the end of the day they got the win and two points which is what they really needed.
Friday night was the worst game of the season for the Bruins. After Steven Kampfer scored the first goal of the night in the first, the Sabres would score 5 unanswered goals, 1 in the first, 2 in the second, and 2 in the 3rd. The Bruins looked depleted and tired. They would stage something of a comeback in the third as Nick Ritchie, Kevan Miller, and Taylor Hall scored to cut the score to 5-4, but David Pastrnak would give the puck away with an empty net late in the 3rd and Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart capitalized to give the Sabres a 6-4 lead which would end up being the final score.
The Bruins may have shown some grit with their attempt at a comeback in the 3rd, but they should never have been in that deep of a hole against the worst team in the NHL. After winning 6 straight games, they finally came back down to earth. With the playoffs getting nearer, watching the Bruins go from outplaying really good teams like the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders, to struggling against Buffalo is something that needs to be addressed immediately. They cannot play like they did Friday night against better teams, or they will simply get blown out of the water.
The Bruins next two games will be against the Pittsburgh Penguins who are currently 3 points ahead of the Bruins. 2 wins will go a very long way for the Bruins, but they have to play much, much better than they have against Buffalo this week if they want to make up any ground against the Penguins.
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