BOSTON — The Bruins held a two-goal lead at the midway point of the third period Saturday night, but they could not maintain it in a loss to Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres.
Eichel, a native of North Chelmsford, Mass., finished with two goals and two assists in the first four-point game of his young NHL career, and the Sabres scored the final five goals — all in the second half of the third — to roll to a 6-3 victory at TD Garden.
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly both potted empty-net goals to seal the deal for the visitors.
WELCOME BACK, JACK
Saturday represented a homecoming for Eichel, who was playing his first game back in Boston since leaving Boston University for the NHL this past spring.
The 19-year-old helped set up the game’s first goal, which Evander Kane finished off to put Buffalo ahead 1-0 early in the second period.
Eichel then potted one of his own two periods later, sending a puck on net that deflected off the skate of Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller and past goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
Eichel’s empty-netter gave him his first multi-goal game as an NHLer, and he assisted on O’Reilly’s to close out the scoring.
Buffalo’s advantage was short-lived. Matt Beleskey tipped a Kevan Miller shot past Chad Johnson a mere 36 seconds later, and Patrice Bergeron scored just 1:16 after that off a pretty feed from Brad Marchand to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
Miller and Loui Eriksson assisted on Beleskey’s tally, and Marchand and Zdeno Chara were credited with helpers on Bergeron’s.
Beleskey’s goal also broke a 124:34 scoreless drought for the Bruins dating to the first period of last Sunday’s shootout win over the New Jersey Devils.
David Krejci employed some stellar hand-eye coordination to bat his own rebound past former Bruins goaltender Johnson midway through the third period.
Krejci had gone without a goal in 11 consecutive games entering Saturday, his longest drought of the season. The veteran center remained involved in the offense during that span, however, dishing out seven assists.
Defenseman Torey Krug exited the game midway through the first period and did not return. The Bruins did not announce a reason for Krug’s departure, but replays appeared to indicate some sort of lower body injury.
(Video via Stanley Cup of Chowder)
Krug is one of six Bruins players to appear in all 34 of the team’s games this season. Chara replaced him on the Bruins’ top power-play unit.
OFF Z POST(S)
Chara had a chance to open the scoring during a first-period power play, but his shot on Johnson deflected off both posts without crossing the goal line. Beleskey and Marchand both had chances in the immediate aftermath but couldn’t beat Johnson.
FIRST MUST WAIT
The lost cost the Bruins a chance to jump into first place in the Atlantic Division. Losses by them and the Montreal Canadiens allowed the Detroit Red Wings to vault over both teams and into first, with Boston sitting one point back in third.
The Bruins take on another division foe, the Senators, in a home-and-home beginning Sunday night in Ottawa. Puck drop at Canadian Tire Centre is set for 5 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Perry Nelson/Associated Press