Bruins’ Missed Opportunities, Downright Ugly Third Period Cost Them in Loss to Sabres

Nathan Horton, Drew StaffordThe Bruins seemed pretty excited to come away from Wednesday night’s shootout loss to the Rangers with a point to show for their efforts. The B’s fell behind 3-0 and stormed back with three third-period goals to force the game to overtime.

They should be very dejected following Friday night’s game, though, where Boston showed the opposite of the New York game.

Boston dominated much of the game against the Sabres on Friday night, but the Bruins had arguably their ugliest period of the season in the third, and it cost them in a 4-2 loss to the Sabres.

The issues probably began in the second period, though. The Bruins failed to adequately take advantage of a hapless Sabres team, keeping Buffalo in the game heading into the third. Some credit must go to Ryan Miller, but when you’re facing a reeling team on the road, you have to put them away.

The Bruins did not.

“I think it’s a matter of we should have closed that game in the second period,” Claude Julien said of a second period where the Bruins outshot Buffalo 17-6, but could only muster one goal. “The chances we had, if we buried them, it’s a different game going into the third period.”

But again, the Bruins did not.

Whatever Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said (or didn’t say) in between periods must have made a difference. The Sabres came out in the third with a noticeable jump. For whatever reason, the B’s looked surprised by that.

It was reminiscent of the only other regulation loss for Boston, which just so happened to come against the Sabres on Jan. 31. Boston struggled in all areas of the game in that one as well, with Buffalo outscoring Boston 4-1 in the third period on the way to a 7-4 win. Julien labeled his team as defensively “brain-dead” following that game, and he wasn’t much happier about Friday’s effort.

There was way too much standing around. There were far too many turnovers. The hustle to loose pucks that was seen through two periods was gone, either neutralized by an eager Sabres team or inexplicably gone. Saves that should have been made weren’t made. There was nothing good to take from the final 20 minutes on Friday, including the score.

“We were playing a desperate team tonight and that’s what happens when you play a desperate team,” Julien said. “We got caught off-guard there and it cost us the game.”

Caught off-guard might be putting it nicely. The Sabres poured in three third-period goals, and in their two wins over the Bruins this season, they’ve outscored the B’s 7-1 in the game’s final frame. Whether it’s making Tyler Myers look like Bobby Orr or standing around looking at pucks behind the Boston net, the defensive breakdowns were everywhere you looked.

Now, the Bruins are left to pick up the pieces, move on and get ready to head to Winnipeg on Sunday to continue their road trip. It’s another game against a team the Bruins should beat, but it’s also in an arena they didn’t win in last season.

If the Bruins fall asleep on Sunday like they did Friday, they’ll be off to an 0-2 start on this trip.

“We talked about that before the road trip,” Julien said. “We had to start it on the right foot. For 40 minutes [Friday], we were doing it, but the third period cost us.”

The Bruins had a chance to start this important five-game roadie on a winning note, and in the process, they could have gone a long way in ending a divisional rival’s season.

But in both cases, the Bruins did not.

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