The Boston Bruins’ winning streak was going to end eventually.
The Bruins conceded five unanswered goals to the Buffalo Sabres, but despite a solid comeback effort in the back half of the third period, Boston fell 6-4 at KeyBank Center. It was the Bruins’ third straight game against Buffalo, and the loss halted Boston’s winning streak at six games.
Down 5-1 with less than eight minutes to play, the Bruins scored three straight goals but didn’t have enough to pull off a comeback.
Steven Kampfer, Nick Ritchie, Kevan Miller and Taylor Hall scored for the Bruins, who were without Patrice Bergeron. Sam Reinhart had a hat trick for the Sabres, including the empty-netter with 41.9 seconds to play. Rasmus Dahlin, Casey Mittelstadt and Arttu Ruotsalainen had the other goals for the Sabres.
Tuukka Rask made 24 saves for Boston before getting pulled in the third period, with Jaroslav Halak proceeding to make four stops. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen turned away 36 shots for Buffalo in his NHL debut.
The Bruins fall to 27-13-6 with the loss. The Sabres climb to 13-28-7 with the win.
Here’s how it all went down.
Both sides earned a first-period goal as the Bruins played a somewhat sloppy first 20 minutes.
It didn’t take long for Boston to get on the board. David Pastrnak sent a puck back in his own zone to Kampfer to get the breakout going. The puck ricocheted off Kampfer’s stick and went to Rask, who tapped it back to the blueliner. The breakout then ensued, with Kampfer zipping a pass rink-wide to Hall.
The winger carried the puck along the left wing through the neutral zone, eventually gaining the offensive blue line. Kampfer had joined the rush, so Hall sent a pass a few feet to his right to Kampfer, who sniped a wrister from the inside of the left circle past Luukkonen at 2:15.
Because Rask had tapped the puck to Kampfer, the netminder was credited with a secondary assist, his first point of the season.
Penalties continued to kill the Bruins though.
With Matt Grzelcyk in the box for tripping Ruotsalainen, Dahlin fed a pass from the point to Reinhart at the dot. Buffalo’s leading scorer ripped a one-timer past Rask to equalize at 15:40, just 17 seconds into the man advantage.
The Bruins were outplayed in pretty much every way in the middle 20, and the Sabres cashed in. Buffalo scored a pair of goals in the second period to go into the third up 3-1.
Brad Marchand whiffed at the attacking blue line as he attempted to dump a puck into Boston’s offensive zone. Riley Sheahan gathered the loose puck and started a rush, then dropped a backhander into the slot. It got through a ton of bodies and found its way to Dahlin at the point, and the defenseman carried the puck to the high slot before weaving a wrister through traffic that beat Rask at 6:54 to put the hosts up 2-1.
Later in the period, Mittelstadt took a shot that went wide and whipped around the boards, and Tage Thompson gained possession at the half wall. Thompson skated the puck to the back of the net, then found Mittelstadt at the inside of the right circle, and the center beat Rask to make it 3-1 Buffalo at 14:17.
MAKING IT INTERESTING
The Sabres seemed like they might’ve squashed any hopes of a Bruins comeback. And though they did close the door, Boston didn’t go quietly.
Just over a minute after the third period started, Ruotsalainen skated down the right wing, then tried to send a pass across Buffalo’s offensive zone. The puck caromed off Dylan Cozens and right back to Ruotsalainen, who carried it a few more strides before uncorking a shot that beat Rask 74 seconds after the period began.
That was enough to get Rask pulled from the game, with Halak taking over in his first game action since Apr. 3.
A few minutes later, with the Sabres on the power-play, Charlie Coyle misplayed a puck at the half boards, chipping it to the middle of the defensive zone with no Bruins around to retrieve it. Halak went out to try and play it, but Reinhart was there first, flicking Buffalo’s fifth goal at 4:30.
In the back half of the period, a Kampfer drive from the point was stopped by Luukkonen, but it resulted in a loose puck at the top of the crease. Sticks from all over the place swatted at the loose change, but it was Ritchie who connected and slipped it home to cut the deficit to 5-2 with 7:54 to play.
Just a few minutes after the Ritchie goal, Miller got a Kampfer pass from the red line and carried the puck into the attacking zone and through the slot before scoring Boston’s third goal at 15:25. It was his first goal since Dec. 27, 2017.
The Bruins pulled Halak with 3:20 to play, and cashed in a few moments later.
Hall held the puck at the wing, then sent a puck into the slot. Rasmus Ristolainen accidentally hit the puck and redirected it past his goalie, putting the Bruins down just 5-4 with 2:48 to play.
Halak was pulled once again with just over 90 seconds to go, but with 41.9 seconds to play, Reinhart sent a puck the length of the ice and found the back of the net to close the door.
With the three games against Buffalo now behind them, the Bruins head to Pittsburgh for a two-game set against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena. The opener will be Sunday, with puck drop set for 3 p.m. ET.