Only it wasn't the Sabres redeeming themselves for the their lack of response to Milan Lucic's crushing hit on Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller earlier this month. Instead, the person who really atoned for his past misdeeds was Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot.
One game after being benched in the third period following a string of costly penalties in Montreal, Pouliot delivered the only goal in the shootout to lift Boston to a 4-3 victory in Buffalo, extending the Bruins' win streak to 10 games and putting them back atop the Northeast Division at 13-7-0.
"It feels great," Pouliot said. "It's tough when you get penalties. It's obviously something you don't want to do to the guys you play with. I had my chance again tonight to play, played a lot and the guys played great. … Timmy [Thomas] played awesome in the shootout and I got a chance to go and was hoping not to miss it and it went well."
Each of the first nine shooters in the shootout failed to convert, with Thomas stoning each of the Sabres' big guns with saves on Thomas Vanek, Nathan Gerbe, Jason Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. But Jhonas Enroth was equally strong at the other end, denying Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron before Pouliot had his chance to win it.
"I wasn't too sure what to do there," Pouliot said. "But I saw everyone was shooting and the goalie was going pretty low all the time. So I tried to go higher and it paid off."
Bruins coach Claude Julien's decision to stick with Pouliot paid off as well. After Pouliot's struggles in Montreal, many expected Julien to come back with Jordan Caron in that spot on the third line against Buffalo. But Julien felt that the third-period benching was punishment enough, and that Pouliot would rebound if given another chance.
"I think what people have got to realize is that in Montreal it really wasn't so much his play because he actually was playing well," Julien said. "It was more about controlling his emotions, and his emotions were getting the better of him the first time back in Montreal. He was a liability out there so I thought it was best for the team [to bench him] and he understood that. But he certainly wasn't disappointing in his play and tonight again he played well."
Pouliot, who took an undisciplined hooking penalty and a high-sticking double minor Monday in his return to Montreal against his former club, did take another early penalty Wednesday with an elbowing minor 2:31 into the first. That didn't put the Bruins shorthanded, but it did negate a possible power play as the Sabres were called for too many men at the same time.
He settled down after that, though, playing solid with three shots and three hits in 12:38. And as the shootout dragged into sudden death, Julien played a hunch and sent Pouliot out in the fifth round.
"He's shown in practice when we've do shootouts that he's got some skills," Julien said. "So it was time to use him. I'm glad to see he scored a big goal for us, because it's going to be huge for his confidence."
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