Final, Bruins 3-1: The Bruins don't convert any of their chances at the open net, but it doesn't matter as Boston holds on for the two-goal win with a strong third-period statement against the Sabres.
That gives Boston its first back-to-back victories since Jan. 10 and 12, a span of nearly two months. The win was important too, as it kept the Bruins three points ahead of Ottawa, which beat the Rangers 4-1.
The Bruins will look to make it three in a row and further solidify their hold on the Northeast Division lead when they host Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Third Period, 17:53, Bruins 3-1: The Bruins fourth line gets hemmed in own zone for first time in a while, forcing an icing and Julien calls timeout to give them a quick rest before a key faceoff in the Boston zone with the Sabres pulling Enroth for the extra attacker.
Third Period, 15:54, Bruins 3-1: The Bruins add a huge insurance goal with David Krejci going top shelf at the right post.
Tyler Seguin sent the puck up from the right side to Lucic coming down the left wing, and Lucic crossed it over to Krejci for the goal. Chara didn't puck up an assist, but started the play with some nifty stickwork through traffic in his own zone to get the puck up to Seguin to start the breakout.
Third Period, 12:56, Bruins 2-1: The Bruins take their first lead of the night as Johnny Boychuk follows up his thunderous hit with an even bigger blast of a slap shot.
Jordan Caron's attempt to center the puck to Brad Marchand was blocked, but Boychuk jumped up into the play and pounced on the loose puck for a rocket from the top of the right circle.
Third Period, 11:32, 1-1: The Bruins force an icing with another strong shift from the fourth line, and Buffalo uses its timeout to try to settle things down and give its players on the ice a breather.
Third Period, 9:38, 1-1: Johnny Boychuk delivers the hit of the night, leveling Thomas Vanek just inside the Sabres blue line as the Buffalo forward attempts to carry the puck out of the zone.
Third Period, 7:50, 1-1: Shawn Thornton right back out for fourth line's next shift, and immediately causes some havoc in front as he crashes the crease.
Third Period, 4:34, 1-1: Shawn Thornton continues to rack up the facial damage. he gets clipped and heads to the bench for some treatment, but doesn't go to the room.
Third Period, 2:16, 1-1: The fourth line nearly gets another goal for the Bruins, with Lane MacDermid sending in a shot from the slot with Campbell parked at the top of the crease.
Third Period, 0:00, 1-1: The final frame is under way here at the Garden, but will 60 minutes be enough to settle this one. Two of the first four meetings between the Bruins and Sabres have gone to shootouts, and this one is tied 1-1 as the third period begins.
Second Intermission Notes: The Bruins finally broke through late in the second, with the fourth line providing the unlikely offensive spark as Gregory Campbell tipped home a Shawn Thornton shot to make it 1-1 going into the third.
That ended some of the frustration for the Bruins, who have continued to create the bulk of the scoring chances but are struggling to get anything past Jhonas Enroth. Seeking a spark, Claude Julien switched up the lines in the second, moving Jordan Caron up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Brian Rolston moved down with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Caron looks like a better fit than Rolston, matching the energy of his fellow youngsters as that line created several chances.
The Bruins are still outshooting Buffalo 22-14, though it was just 9-8 in the second despite playing much of the period in the Sabres end. The domination in the faceoff circle isn't in doubt though, with Boston 28-12 (70 percent). Bergeron leads the way there at 15-4.
End Second Period, 1-1: The middle frame comes to a close with the Bruins and Sabres all tied up. Things got physical at the end of that period with Patrick Kaleta stirring up a late scrum and Zdeno Chara delivering a pair of back-to-back hit on Corey Tropp, but not penalties were called.
Second Period, 18:09, 1-1: The Bruins finally break through as the Merlot Line provides the offensive spark.
Shawn Thornton pounced on a Buffalo turnover and one-timed a blast from out near the blue line in the middle of the ice, and Gregory Campbell deflected it past Enroth from the slot. After a review for a possible high stick on the tip, the goal stands and this one is all tied up.
Second Period, 16:36, Sabres 1-0: The Sabres with a rare chance as some confusion among the Bruins defense gives Corey Tropp an opportunity in front, followed by a second-chance bid from Brad Boyes at the right post.
Second Period, 15:16, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins have switched up the lines a bit looking for offense, with Jordan Caron moving up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Brian Rolston slides down to play with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot.
Second Period, 12:50, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins within inches of tying this one as Dennis Seidenberg sends in a blast from the left point that clangs the far post as Brad Marchand provided the screen in front.
Second Period, 11:45, Sabres 1-0: Another strong shift for the Bruins' top line with Tyler Seguin creating several chances and Milan Lucic throwing his weight around, but Boston still can't find the back of the net.
Second Period, 8:18, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins with another golden chance as Tyler Seguin breaks in behind the defense off a pass from Joe Corvo and is in alone on Enroth, but the Sabres netminder makes the stop to preserve the one-goal lead. Boston is now up 18-9 in shots, but still trails 1-0.
Second Period, 5:39, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins continue to press, this time with Adam McQuaid jumping up into the play for a bid from the left slot. Gregory Campbell nearly corralled the rebound in front but couldn't quite put it home.
Second Period, 1:06, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins killed off the rest of penalty and went right back on the attack, with Milan Lucic getting a chance in front.
Second Period, 0:00, Sabres 1-0: The middle frame is under way here at the Garden, with the Bruins looking to pull even. They'll have to kill off the final 16 seconds of Jordan Caron's hooking penalty first.
First Intermission Notes: The Bruins got off to a solid start in seeking their first back-to-back wins in nearly two months, but they weren't able to convert any of their chances and find themselves down 1-0 after one period here at the Garden.
The Bruins outshot Buffalo 13-6 and had the bulk of the scoring chances, but Jhonas Enroth looked surprisingly sharp in a rare start for the Sabres. Tim Thomas couldn't say the same on one of Buffalo's few chances when Jason Pominville beat him from high in the right circle for the game's lone goal.
The Bruins are also outhitting Buffalo 9-5, with the defense being particularly active in the physical game. Johnny Boychuk leads the way with three hits, including one stopping Nathan Gerbe in his tracks in the Boston zone. Adam McQuaid also landed a big shot early on Buffalo agitator Patrick Kaleta.
Mike Mottau had a quiet first period in his his return to the lineup, playing 4:08 with a giveaway as his lone stat. Jordan Caron hasn't maintained his torrid play of the last two games so far with no shots in 3:33. he also took a hooking penalty that will carry over to the start of the second.
End First Period, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins controlled play for most of the opening 20 minutes, but head into the first intermission down 1-0 after a late goal by the Sabres.
First Period, 18:16, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins are now shorthanded as Jordan Caron is called for hooking.
First Period, 18:03, Sabres 1-0: Things get nasty in front of the Buffalo net as Milan Lucic and Mike Weber mix it up after Enroth ties up a Zdeno Chara point shot. They exchange shoves, but no penalties are called.
First Period, 16:39, Sabres 1-0: The Sabres make the most of one of their rare offensive chances as Jason Pominville gives Buffalo a 1-0 lead.
He blasted home a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Thomas up high to the near post.
First Period, 16:23, 0-0: The Bruins with another bid in front as Benoit Pouliot is denied on a backhander from the top of the crease. Boston up to a 12-4 edge in shots now, but so far Jhonas Enroth hasn't looked a bit rusty to turning every bid aside.
First Period, 12:07, 0-0: The Bruins can't cash in on that power play despite some solid chances and plenty of time in the Buffalo zone. Boston now up 9-2 in shots, but it remains scoreless.
First Period, 10:07, 0-0: The Bruins get the first power-play chance of the night as David Krejci nearly sends Milan Lucic in on a 2 on 1. Lucic can't finish the chance, but does draw a hooking penalty on Drew Stafford.
First Period, 9:44, 0-0: Some jostling between the benches after the whistle. No surprise to find Brad Marchand in the middle of it with Derek Roy, but cooler heads prevail.
First Period, 5:40, 0-0: The Bruins had the first four shots of the game before Buffalo mustered one on Thomas, but it remains scoreless despite the Bruins having the better of the play so far.
First Period, 2:05, 0-0: The hitting starts early as Adam McQuaid lands a big shot on Patrick Kaleta along the boards. Won't be too many around the league sad to see Kaleta become hittee instead of hitter for a change.
First Period, 0:00, 0-0: This one is under way here at the Garden, where the Bruins and Sabres will clash for the fifth time this season.
7 p.m.: The Bruins will open with their suddenly hot third line of Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron, with Mike Mottau and Adam McQuaid on defense and Tim Thomas in goal.
The Sabres counter with Brad Boys, Matt Ellis and Corey Tropp up front, Jordan Leopold and Tyler Myers on the blue line and Jhonas Enroth in net.
6:55 p.m.: The Bruins do make a change on defense, scratching Greg Zanon in favor of Mike Mottau, who returns after sitting out the last four games.
Zanon is the only healthy scratch for Boston. Buffalo also doesn't have any extra healthy bodies, with Cody McCormick (upper body) and Andrej Sekera (flu) out for the Sabres.
6:45 p.m.: With Pouliot good to go, there were no changes to the Bruins lines in warm-ups.
the defensive pairs remained the same as well. Mike Mottau was on the ice, but did not participate in the line rushes.
The full line combinations from warm-ups:
6:40 p.m.: Benoit Pouliot is on the ice for warm-ups and taking his regular turn in the line rushes with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron.
Max Sauve is not on the ice and has been officially sent back down to Providence.
6:30 p.m.: Tim Thomas led the Bruins out for warm-ups and will be in goal as expected for Boston.
It won't be Ryan Miller for Buffalo though. Jhonas Enroth leads the Sabres out onto the ice as Miller gets a break after playing Wednesday night. Miller also now free from worrying about a repeat encounter with Milan Lucic.
6 p.m.: The Bruins and Sabres will clash for the fifth time this season in a hour an hour here at TD Garden.
The Northeast Division rivals have split the first two meetings, with Buffalo winning the last two. The Bruins are a bit more rested though, with Buffalo needing overtime to beat Carolina on Wednesday.
With the back-to-back games, the Sabres did not hold a morning skate. The Bruins held just an optional skate, but injured forwards Benoit Pouliot and Daniel Paille and defenseman Andrew Ference took part, as did newly-signed goalie Marty Turco. Turco will dress as Tim Thomas' back in this one, and Claude Julien said Pouliot declared himself "ready to go," but Paille and Ference will remain out.
8 a.m. ET: The Bruins will get yet another chance to string together consecutive wins when they return home to face a red-hot Sabres squad on Thursday.
The Bruins took a 5-4 victory in Toronto on Tuesday, but last won back-to-back games on Jan. 10 and 12. They're just 11-12-2 in the 25 games since, with two of those losses coming in Buffalo. The Bruins were humbled 6-0 on Feb. 8 and fell 2-1 in a shootout on Feb. 24.
Those setbacks evened the score a bit after the Bruins beat Buffalo 6-2 in Boston on Nov. 12 and 4-3 in a shootout in Buffalo on Nov. 23, but the first of those meetings will be best remembered for Milan Lucic steamrolling Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. That hit set the tone for plenty of bad blood between the division rivals, though the last meeting was relatively tame.
The Sabres (31-28-8, 70 points) have rattled off a 7-1-1 run in their last nine games to move up to 10th in the East and pull within two points of the final playoff spot in the conference. That lone regulation loss was to the current occupant of that eighth spot as Buffalo fell 3-1 in Winnipeg on Monday, but the Sabres rebounded with a 3-2 overtime win over Carolina on Wednesday.
The Bruins (39-23-3, 81 points) have plenty of incentive themselves. They are trying to secure their hold on the Northeast Division lead, which is just three points over Ottawa, albeit with three games in hand on the Senators.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. Tune in to NESN to watch the game, and stay with the NESN.com live blog, as we'll keep you up to speed on everything happening at the Garden.
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