BOSTON – Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres that gives the B’s seven out of a possible eight points in their last four games.
GOLD STAR: Big Rig Nick Ritchie has been a player that’s earned a lot of accolades for his production on the power play this season, but the big power forward made his presence felt working around the net during 5-on-5 play on Saturday afternoon. Ritchie scored in the third period hammering home a goal at the net front after a nice play by Charlie McAvoy earlier in the period, and then both Ritchie and David Krejci were winning battles at the net-front on Craig Smith’s eventual game-winner late in the third period as well. It wasn’t just the two scoring plays for Ritchie, however, as he finished with five shots on net, eight shot attempts, four hits, a takeaway and a blocked shot in his 19 minutes of ice time. He teamed with Krejci and Smith to be extremely effective against Buffalo during 5-on-5 play ant that’s a good thing. What the Bruins need to see is those guys also doing it against the better teams in the league, which they haven’t been able to do consistently.
BLACK EYE: In a season where he’s been largely invisible, Taylor Hall was that once again for the Buffalo Sabres in a one-goal game. Hall finished with zero points, a couple of shots on net and wasn’t very noticeable for most of the game as Sam Reinhart and Kyle Okposo did the offensive damage for the Sabres. Hall now has two goals and 17 points and is a whopping minus-19 on the season and has value that’s dropping both at the trade deadline, and in free agency next season when he’s got to be hoping for a hot streak to help his numbers at this point. Perhaps a team desperate for offense like the Bruins will take a chance on him down the stretch this year, but he was for from good on Saturday afternoon.
TURNING POINT: The Boston Bruins were down 2-1 after 40 minutes of play and clearly decided that Saturday wasn’t going to be the day that they hit rock-bottom and lost to the Sabres. So, the Boston Bruins went out in the third period and outshot the Sabres by a 15-3 margin while crashing the net and providing the kind of unrelenting attack that we didn’t see in the opening two periods. That resulted in Nick Ritchie scoring at the net front earlier in the third period, and then the new-look second line of Ritchie, David Krejci and Craig Smith teaming up for the game-winning goal in the final four minutes of the third period.
HONORABLE MENTION: Craig Smith displayed his usual second-effort style and energy throughout the game at both ends of the ice and was eventually rewarded with the game-winning goal late in the third period. After winning battles all around the front of the Buffalo net after a couple of shots on Linus Ullmark, the puck bounced over to Smith wide-open for the chance he buried in the back of the net. Smith finished with three shots on net, four shot attempts and a plus-2 in 17:42 of ice time while keeping the Bruins from the embarrassing distinction of losing to the lowly Sabres. Plus, Smith’s Superman goal celebration afterward was also extremely on point, so he definitely has that going for him as well.
Craig Smith is a SnyderCut guy pic.twitter.com/bXTc48tt4i
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) March 27, 2021
BY THE NUMBERS: 17 – the winless streak for the Buffalo Sabres as it continues to carry on with an 0-15-2 record dating back to a Feb. 25 loss to the New Jersey Devils. So, the Sabres have gone over a full month without a win in the NHL. Ouch.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I just thought we were opportunistic. Some of the focus was put on getting to the front of the net and being a little hungrier around the net. It was creating havoc in front and getting a lucky puck bounce there.” –Boston Bruins winger Craig Smith on his game-winning goal in the third where Smith, David Krejci and Nick Ritchie were all winning battles and pounding at the front of the net.