The Boston Bruins quickly rebounded from an embarrassing season opening defeat to the Washington Capitals with a convincing 4-0 road victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
Whenever the B’s were in a rut last season, the top line would step up and provide relief, and that was the case versus Buffalo. Brad Marchand led the way with assists on all four Boston goals, Patrice Bergeron added a goal and an assist and David Pastrnak scored a goal as well.
Marchand (85 points), Pastrnak (80 points) and Bergeron (63 points) led the Bruins in scoring last season — making a strong case to be considered the NHL’s best line. This trio gave what was a struggling offense Wednesday a much-needed jolt in Buffalo.
Marchand, in particular, was the catalyst. He set up the B’s first goal with a nice cross-ice pass to Zdeno Chara, and the Bruins captain beat Sabres goalie Carter Hutton with a snipe of a shot. Marchand also picked up a primary helper on Ryan Donato’s goal with a great pass later in the first period.
The veteran winger also chipped in on Pastrnak’s second-period tally and Bergeron’s shorthanded empty-net goal at the end of the game.
The Bruins need much better production from their bottom-six forwards. Scoring depth is the hallmark of all Stanley Cup-winning teams, and even though we’re just two games into the season, the early results from the third and fourth lines aren’t too positive (zero points).
Luckily for the B’s, they have arguably the best line in hockey, one that’s capable of lifting the team to victories when the whole offense isn’t firing on all cylinders.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Sabres:
— Buffalo has been a second home for the Bruins of late. They are 8-1-1 with 3.2 goals scored per game and an 89.5 penalty killing percentage in their last 10 games at KeyBank Center.
— Chara’s goal made him the third-oldest player (41 years, 200 days) in Bruins history to find the back of the net. The oldest players to score for the B’s are Mark Recchi (43 years, 64 days) and John Bucyk (42 years, 287 days).
— Marchand has owned the Sabres throughout his career. He’s tallied 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) in 40 career games versus Buffalo.
— Jaroslav Halak didn’t face a ton of Grade A scoring chances, but he did his job for a 31-save shutout — his first with the Bruins. The veteran goalie was signed as a free agent to be Boston’s backup behind Tuukka Rask, but he should still play quite a bit given his experience, talent and the Bruins wanting to keep Rask free of a heavy workload.
— Boston’s special teams were brutal against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. The Bruins power play went 0-for-2 while the penalty kill allowed four power-play goals to the defending Stanley Cup champions. The B’s were much better Thursday night, capitalizing on their only PP chance and going 2-for-2 on the PK with a shorthanded goal (empty net).
— Sabres center Jack Eichel entered Thursday with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 career games against his hometown Bruins. But the North Chelmsford, Mass., native was held off the scoresheet by the B’s in Buffalo’s season opener.
Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images