There are some games that, no matter the circumstances, you should win. Thursday night was as close as you can get to that for the Bruins, as they were in Buffalo to take on the lowly Sabres. The B’s certainly had more than their share of chances to do so, too.
It didn’t really work out the way the Bruins planned it, though. Boston was upended on Thursday night, as the Sabres were able to score two goals in the third period to win 4-2.
It was a frustrating end to what was a frustrating night for the Bruins. It wasn’t exactly like the Sabres did a lot to frustrate the Bruins. The First Niagra Center scoreboard was the only place that argued the Sabres were the better team Thursday night. The B’s outshot and out-chanced the Sabres all night. The funny thing about chances, however, is that they’re just that — chances. Nothing is guaranteed, and in order to make the most of those opportunities, you have to, you know, put the puck in the net.
The Bruins weren’t able to do that against the Sabres. Boston outshot the Sabres 36-23, and that included a 15-5 advantage in the third period. The ice really started to tilt in the second period when Brad Marchand broke out with a pair of goals. The B’s held a big advantage in chances during the middle frame, but two goals wasn’t going to be enough. The Sabres eventually took advantage of the fact that the Bruins didn’t put them away when Marcus Foligno scored with 2:41 to play in the second period.
There didn’t appear to be any carry-over effect, though. The Bruins came out in the third period and peppered Sabres goalie Ryan Miller with shots. The former Vezina Trophy winner was on his game, however, and he made sure the Bruins didn’t get familiar with the back of the net. These things have a away of coming back to bite you, and that’s exactly what happened for Boston on Thursday night. They found themselves tied up late in the third period when anything can happen, and that’s how it went down.
The late-game frustrations started with a terrific individual effort from Drew Stafford. The Buffalo forward carried the puck into the Boston zone down the right wing. Stafford took advantage of the new shallow nets as he glided around the net, and he ended up beating Boston backup goalie Chad Johnson to the post. Johnson was too slow in moving from his left to his right, and Stafford somehow found a hole. Johnson had a chance to get from pipe to pipe, but in keeping with the theme of the night, he couldn’t make the most of that opportunity.
“I was overaggressive on the first play there,” Johnson told reporters. “He was coming down the wing and I was just too tight. I didn’t get over to the other side. It’s a tough, tough goal late in the third in a tie game. Just to let in a goal like that is again, disappointing.”
That goal only gave the Sabres a one-goal lead, but that led increased to two just 80 seconds later. That’s when Tyler Myers jumped into the rush and took a pass from Brian Flynn and beat Johnson with a quick wrist shot. That was really all she wrote for the Bruins.
“I think we just didn’t take advantage of scoring chances, we didn’t capitalize on the ones we had,” B’s head coach Claude Julien told NESN’s Jamie Erdahl. “We had a lot in the second period, but unfortunately we’ve probably gotta capitalize a little bit more on those. It’s just a matter of time there, their goaltender played well, and they got some timely goals there in the third period.”
It was a night of hollow victories for the Bruins. It was certainly a good thing to finally get Marchand going. The Bruins’ first line had a bunch of chances, especially in the third period. Advanced stats point to a very solid showing from the third line of Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. Not only that, David Warsofsky didn’t look out of place in his NHL debut.
None of that really means much of anything in the standings, though. Starting a home-and-home against one of the NHL’s worst teams, the Bruins had a chance to go into Buffalo and beat an inferior team. That ended up being the biggest missed opportunity of the night.