Patrice Bergeron Nets Winner as Bruins Shock Sabres in OT

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November 20, 2009

Patrice Bergeron Nets Winner as Bruins Shock Sabres in OT After a frustrating three-game losing skid last week, the Bruins won their second contest in a row on Friday night, getting a game-winning tip-in from Patrice Bergeron less than a minute into overtime to win 2-1 in Buffalo.

Zdeno Chara's shot just 47 seconds into the overtime period would be deftly deflected by Bergeron past Sabres goalie Ryan Miller for the game-winner.

After Buffalo took an early lead on Paul Gaustad's first-period deflection, the Bruins were able to equalize halfway through the second. Following two missed opportunities on the power play, Byron Bitz outraced a Sabres defender to a bouncing puck near the red line, raced in on a two-on-one with Milan Lucic and dished to Lucic at the last second. Lucic wristed a perfectly placed shot past Miller and just inside the far post to knot the score at 1.

Twenty-two-year-old netminder Tuukka Rask won his second game in two nights for the B's, making 25 saves in relief of starter Tim Thomas, who missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Until the game-winner, Miller had been stellar for the Sabres as well, making 24 saves on the night.

Bruins 2, Sabres 1 (OT)
HSBC Arena, Buffalo, N.Y.
Nov. 20, 2009

Highlights | Live Blog | Box Score | Recap

Headliner: Though this award could go to Bergeron, Chara or even Rask, the real star on Friday night was the Bruins' power game. And it started with the game's first shift.

Playing in just his second game back after missing 14 straight contests with a broken finger, Milan Lucic pounded Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder with a mind-bending check less than a minute into the game behind the Buffalo net. Lucic also leveled Buffalo defenseman (and former Bruin) Steve Montador against the near-side boards in the third. But it wasn't just the big hits that made a difference.

The Bruins' timely forechecks played just as big a role. And whether it was the never-stopping motor of Blake Wheeler (four shots) and Bitz, the stick-handling of David Krejci or the never-say-die attitude of Bergeron, that grittiness kept the Bruins going against a team with a far better record to this point of the season.

Grinder: Making two starts in 24 hours is an oddity for an NHL goaltender. It's even stranger for a backup. And hopping right back into goal in the place of the under-the-weather reigning Vezina Trophy winner is no easy feat, especially against the top team in the Northeast Division.

But once again, Tuukka Rask was up to the task for the Bruins. He used his butterfly style to near-perfection, making 25 big saves against the savvy Sabres. Rask stopped veteran sniper Thomas Vanek on an early chance less than four minutes into the first period and stoned Vanek again three minutes into the third.

With his second straight victory, Rask improved to 5-2 on the season. He even notched his first career point, getting an assist on Lucic's second-period tally.

Key Moment: It won't be reflected in the box score, but the Bruins' forecheck and pressure in their offensive zone played a huge part in the B's winning this game. With about 12:15 remaining in the second period and Boston just coming off a power play, the 6-foot-9 Chara kept up the pressure on a teammate's dump-in, earning another Buffalo penalty against Toni Lydman.

The Bruins were unable to score on the ensuing man advantage, but the second-straight penalty marked a turning point of sorts and proved that the Bruins were playing the more aggressive game.

About a minute after the Lydman penalty expired, Bitz started the Bruins' break that resulted in Lucic's game-tying goal.

Weak Link: It didn't end up making a difference in the end, but the Bruins' special teams struggled again on Friday night. Boston's power play continued its lack of production, going 0-for-4 on the night and falling to 13.1 percent on the season. The Bruins penalty kill had only two chances, but the Sabres capitalized in the first when Gaustad deflected home the game's first goal past Rask.

What's Next: Having gone 2-0 through two games of their four-game road swing, the Bruins have the weekend off before heading to St. Louis, where they'll take on the Blues on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Bruins haven't faced the Blues yet in 2009-10, but they are 3-4-0 against Western Conference opposition. Last season, the Bruins split their two-game series against St. Louis, winning 6-3 on the road on Dec. 21, but falling 5-4 in a shootout at the Garden on Jan. 19.

After making the playoffs this past spring for the first time since 2004, the Blues are a disappointing 7-8-4 so far this season, last in the Central.

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