Here are the Talking Points from the Boston Bruins taking care of business in a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center.
GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask was by far Boston’s best player in pitching a shutout and making 32 saves against a Sabres team that generated some pretty good chances against a Bruins team that was making some mistakes down the stretch. His highlight save came midway through the first period just after a Buffalo power play had expired with it all starting with a point blast from Rasmus Dahlin. Rask stopped that, smothered a rebound attempt from Rasmus Ristolainen and then somehow flashed over to the other side of the net as Dylan Cozens was setting up for an easy tap-in goal. Instead, Rask got a glove on the puck and managed to steal a score away from the Sabres. The highlight reel stop was obviously what people were talking about, but Rask also made 17 saves in the third period while standing on his head to preserve the slim lead and the shutout. Rask has won all three games with a .955 save percentage since returning from a suspected back injury and looks primed for the playoffs. But let’s be honest, everybody is talking about the show-stopping save in the first period.
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BLACK EYE: The Buffalo Sabres were brutal at the end of the game with the Bruins trying their hardest to blow the two-goal lead. The Bruins took three minor penalties in the final 10 minutes of the game to continuously put the Sabres power play on the ice, and that set up a 6-on-3 advantage for the Bruins in the final few minutes with the PPs and the goalie pulled. Instead, the Sabres settled for perimeter shots with a three-man advantage and then took a too many men on the ice penalty when they managed to have seven total players on the ice. The announcement from the ref was “bench minor, too many men on the ice…seven players.” Woof, that is an embarrassing screw-up by the Sabres coaching staff that hurt any chances of a miracle comeback at the game’s end. The Sabres might be playing better hockey lately, but Tuesday night’s game was ugly, ugly and even more ugly all around for one of the NHL’s worst teams.
TURNING POINT: The Boston Bruins really crushed Buffalo’s spirit in the second period when Connor Clifton scored an insurance goal on a point shot that Buffalo netminder Dustin Tokarski kicked into the back of his own net. Then the B’s stormed the Sabres with an 18-shot barrage in the second period really put Buffalo on their heels and made the Sabres feel like any comeback hopes were futile. The only complaint from a Bruins perspective is that they weren’t able to score a third goal to extend the lead, a development that would have made things a lot more relaxed for the Black and Gold. Instead, the Bruins top two lines were all over the Sabres throughout the game but needed to win a low-scoring game where the little details came to the forefront for a big result. The good news is that the chances were there, and it felt more like an “off” night than a return to the struggle to score 5-on-5 goals.
HONORABLE MENTION: Taylor Hall didn’t factor into the scoring, but he was playing winning hockey in a game where so many Bruins players coasted to victory. Hall didn’t crack the score sheet, but he did manage an impressive six shots on net while buzzing around the Buffalo net looking for some offense against his old team. He did, however, bust up a 2-on-1 rush for the Sabres with a hustling back check before dropping down to one knee to break up a cross-ice pass that wiped out their final chance to score in the game. There were other competitive shifts as well where Hall was playing hard defense while looking for offense and showed that he’s willing to commit to winning hockey with the Bruins. Hall has been a good fit thus far as a top-6 winger, but his ability and willingness to play the 200-feet game will really endear him to the rest of the team.
BY THE NUMBERS: 9 – the number of consecutive wins for the Bruins over the Sabres, which is a franchise-high mark for the Black and Gold against their divisional rival.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Second-effort saves, tracked the puck well and I think he was our best player. That goes without saying. We could have been a lot better in front of him to make his life easier, but good for him. We expect him to shut the door when need be.” –Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Tuukka Rask’s 32-save shutout effort against the Sabres.