Bruins’ Top-Ranked Penalty Kill Unit Propels B’s to Easy 5-2 Win in Buffalo


Bruins' Top-Ranked Penalty Kill Unit Propels B's to Easy 5-2 Win in Buffalo Brad Marchand may just have a future as a fortune teller if this hockey thing doesn't work out.

The scrappy Bruins forward didn't quite call his shot against Buffalo, but he did correctly predict that the Bruins' league-leading penalty kill would prove a lethal weapon if Boston continued its strong short-handed play.

"You do feed off it, it does snowball," said Marchand after practice earlier this week. "I think if we continue to play the way we're playing on the penalty kill we're going to be very dangerous and a very tough team to play against."

The Bruins' penalty kill was plenty dangerous Wednesday night in Buffalo, as Boston struck for a pair of short-handed goals in the first period and cruised to a 5-2 win over the Sabres.

Marchand scored the first of those short-handed goals, burying a shot on a breakaway with a forehand move 3:32 into the opening period. It was Marchand's first NHL goal in his 29th career game.

"I just wanted to get a shot off, and luckily it went in," said Marchand, who admitted he had always envisioned his first goal coming on a pretty rush in all alone, but figured it was more likely to an ugly goal in traffic.

"I was hoping, but by this time I figured it was going to be a rebound or a greasy goal," said Marchand, "but it was nice to get one on a breakaway. Those always feel good."

Patrice Bergeron followed up Marchand's goal — and his own blocked initial attempt — with another short-handed strike at 14:54 of the first, with Marchand and Greg Campbell picking up the assists. Campbell started the play but was actually off the ice on a change before the puck went in the net.

"We scored a couple of short-handed goals which really helped to set the tone of the game," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "They keep working hard. They're getting into the shooting lanes and they're willing to block shots. Our penalty kill keeps having some success and we need that in order to be successful."

Blake Wheeler, another key member of the PK unit, scored his first goal of the year at even strength later in the first off a nice pass out from behind the net by Michael Ryder and the Bruins were off and running with a 3-0 lead.

"It was nice, both of them have been chomping at the bit to get their first goal this year," said Julien. "And for Marchand it was his first NHL goal too, so it was nice to see him get that and in a nice fashion too on a breakaway."

Before departing for Buffalo, Marchand discussed why the Bruins have been so successful on the penalty kill this season.

"We have a lot of meetings about it," said Marchand. "The guys know where to be and everyone works real well together. And I think the big thing is our goalies have been huge, making big saves at big times and that's the biggest thing. Your goalie has to be your best penalty killer and so far they have been."

Tim Thomas has been the best player on the ice for the Bruins all season long, regardless of the manpower situation. But he has been particularly good when Boston is down a man, and helped the Bruins kill off six of Buffalo's seven power-play chances in this one. The Bruins have now allowed just three goals on 36 power plays for the year, a 91.7 percent success rate.
Thomas made 12 stops on Buffalo's seven power plays and had 33 saves overall. He became the first Bruin goalie to start a season with wins in his first seven starts, improving to 7-0-0 with a league-best 0.71 GAA and .971 save percentage. That was despite allowing more than one goal for the first time this season, as he's now stopped 215 of the 220 shots he's faced.

Not everything was perfect for the Bruins on Wednesday. After jumping out to a commanding 4-0 lead with a Ryder goal in the second, they started making a few too many mistakes and allowed Buffalo to climb back into it. The Bruins were careless at times with the puck and spent way too much time in the box, putting a strain on even their exceptional penalty kill.

"I thought we had a decent start," said Julien. "We played well and got ourselves a lead. But after that our game went down a notch or two and I didn't like the way we played after [getting] that lead. We made a lot of mistakes, turned a lot of pucks over, kind of got comfortable out there and hopefully that's something we can correct down the road."

The Bruins will have to correct that quick, as Wednesday's game was the start of a busy stretch. They complete a three-game road trip with a game at Washington on Friday, then return home to face a tough St. Louis squad at the Garden on Saturday.

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