The Boston Bruins completed their season series with the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon, finishing with a 7-1 record against the East division bottom-feeders. Boston came into their final two games with Buffalo knowing what they needed, which was 4 points, and they got just that. They outworked the Sabres and didn’t seem to fall into any bad habits which is always a concern when facing an inferior team.
Game 1, played on Thursday evening, was one that contained some tense moments as the Sabres kept the game close well into the third period. The scoring was opened by David Pastrnak less than two minutes into the game, when he one timed a Patrice Bergeron pass past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. After starting his season on fire scoring goals, he has been relatively cold for a while so it’s good news for the Bruins if Pasta is scoring again. Casey Mittelstadt of the Sabres tied the game up later in the period before David Krejci got the lead back for the Bruins with a buzzer beater goal with less than a second remaining in the first.
The second period would prove to be scoreless, and the Bruins would take their 2-1 lead into the third. Buffalo kept themselves in the game as Sam Reinhart scored an early goal to tie the game at two. Once the Bruins realized that Buffalo was making a push however, they took any momentum the Sabres may have had and shut it down with three unanswered goals, coming from Charlie Coyle (his first goal since February 28th), Taylor Hall, and Brad Marchand.
Boston did a good job of not letting Buffalo steal a game away from them. As bad as the Sabres have been this year, they’ve been playing decent hockey of late. There’s also the fact that late in the season, teams out of the playoff race tend to play spoiler to good teams like Boston, as they are playing games with no real pressure on their shoulders. In a game that certainly could’ve gotten away from them though, the Bruins did well to pull away at the right time, just when Buffalo seemed to be getting back into the game. It was a relatively average game overall but the Bruins got what they needed, 2 points.
Saturday afternoon was all Boston, as they won by a score of 6-2. They were led by a hat trick from Craig Smith and 3 assists from David Krejci. The Bruins outshot the Sabres 43-19 and dominated play for almost the entirety of the game. Rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman improved to 6-2 this season.
The Bruins will have a chance to move up in the standings in the last week and a half of the season. As of May 1st, they are 1 point behind the New York Islanders, 3 behind the Washington Capitals, and 5 behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York Rangers are 8 points behind Boston for the four seed and will only be able to catch the Bruins if they win out and the Bruins drop every game for the rest of the season.
Assuming that doesn’t happen, the Bruins will be facing one of the top 3 teams in the division in the first round. Considering how they have fared against the Islanders this season, the Bruins will likely be hoping to draw Pittsburgh or Washington, although at this point it’s really going to be a toss up on who will be facing who. The way the Bruins are playing right now, it’s hard to see them losing a 7 game series in round one, but it will be interesting to see how this roster fares on a deep playoff run.
The Bruins will take on the New Jersey Devils coming up this week in another set where there is absolutely no reason that they shouldn’t come away with 4 points, especially considering how poorly the Devils have played in the last month or so. It will be a good chance for them to move up in the standings if one of the teams ahead of them drops some points.
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