Boston Bruins blow big leads in loss to Buffalo Sabres

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 21: Anton Khudobin
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 21: Anton Khudobin /

The Boston Bruins had to play tonight’s game missing two of their usual blueliners and a key forward.  Everyone else on the team brought their skating legs and came to play against the Buffalo Sabres.  Unfortunately, the game slipped away late.

Seven games in, and the Boston Bruins still have yet get their first set of back-to-back wins.  Heading into their first divisional game, the Bruins were a team still seeking to find their identity.  With the rotating cast of characters in the lineup, it’s understandable.  Frustrating, but understandable.  A win tonight would have helped the team figure themselves out and who they could be.

The Bruins, who knew they would already be missing Adam McQuaid on the back end, also did not have the services of Kevan Miller tonight.  Apparently he showed up to the TD Garden with his hand in a cast.  Perhaps these were the remnants of his throwdown with Derek Dorsett on Thursday night.

David Krejci also was a late scratch for the game.  Head coach Bruce Cassidy stated that Krejci was suffering some back spasms after Thursday’s game.  Apparently, those are some pretty bad spasms.  Luckily, the Bruins had veteran Matt Beleskey waiting in the wings who could suit up and play.  And yes, I did say it was lucky the Bruins had Beleskey.  Pigs are flying everywhere around Boston.

Tim Schaller, Mr. Do-it-All for the Bruins, replaced Krejci between Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  Here were the lines that the Bruins cobbled together last minute:

1st period

The first half of the 1st period was devoid of any real action.  Basically, the only exciting moments were a couple of odd plays by goalies Anton Khudobin and Robin Lehner.  Khudobin tried to play the puck behind the net, and it bounced right over his stick.  Luckily, Zdeno Chara had his back, and kept the puck from finding the back of the net.

Lehner decided to play a puck coming into the zone very aggressively.  It worked, as he leapt forward and was able to paddle the puck not just out of the zone, but all the way down into the Bruins’ zone.  Other than those moments, not much happened.

That was until about 14 minutes into the first period.  Pastrnak made a stellar spin-o-rama play in neutral ice to keep the puck moving.  After Schaller put in the hard work down low, Pastrnak jammed the puck home for the first goal of the game.

The Bruins went on the power play a few minutes later after an interference call against Buffalo.  The power play continued the heater it was on, after going 4-for-8 in the last game.  Brad Marchand gathered the puck immediately after the faceoff, and 2 seconds later, backhanded it passed Lehner to extend the lead to 2-0.

2nd period

Marchand decided not to wait to get things going in the 2nd period.  37 seconds into the period, Marchand teed up one of his trademark back-foot snap shots, and went bar-down on Lehner for his second of the game.  Young guns Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy collected the assists on Marchand’s goal.

Buffalo’s elder statesman, Jason Pominville, took advantage of the Bruins inability to clear the puck mid-way through the period.  Off a strong forecheck, Pominville buried one glove-side on Khudobin; off the trapper, off the post, and in.

Shortly after Buffalo’s goal, Pastrnak decided he wasn’t going to let Marchand be the only multi-goal scorer on the night.  As per usual, Pastrnak exhibited an amazing individual effort, and put the puck passed Lehner as he was going down to the ice.  This was after some great puck movement in the neutral zone by Torey Krug and Riley Nash.

Jack Eichel, not wanting to be out-done by the Bruins young players, made his presence known.  The $80 million man narrowed the Bruins lead to 2 when he was able to gather the puck and fire a wrist shot home by Khudobin.  Eichel’s made it known that he is sick of losing.  What better way to stop losing than by scoring big goals when needed?

And that’s how the 2nd period ended.  The energy that the Bruins continually played with, especially given the fact they had a multiple 3 goal leads at one point, was encouraging to see.  Not a single player decided to coast, and the team kept generating chances.

3rd period

ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 15: ESPN Commentator Chris Berman introduces Hall of Famer Bruce Smith for the retiring of his number during halftime of the game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 15: ESPN Commentator Chris Berman introduces Hall of Famer Bruce Smith for the retiring of his number during halftime of the game between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on September 15, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

More from Causeway Crowd

ESPN’s Chris Berman famously coined that “nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.”  The same, however, hasn’t been the case for the Sabres recently.  Despite that, the Sabres opened the scoring in the 3rd period when former Bruin, Benoit Pouliot, ordered his drink from the top shelf.  Looking at the slow-mo replay, the play may have been offside getting into the zone.  However, given that it was now a 1 goal lead, head coach Bruce Cassidy decided not to challenge and risk a minor penalty.

The Buffalo goal initially seemed to only inspire the Bruins, because the team kept the ice slanted towards Lehner most of the remainder of the game.  However, a late penalty call against Brandon Carlo for interference led to a Buffalo power play.  Even though Boston killed the penalty, Evander Kane scored his 6th goal of the season in the dangerous minute after the expiration of the penalty.  Three straight goals for the Sabres, and the game was suddenly tied.

Kyle Okposo clanged one off the crossbar right before the end of the 3rd, but as the horn sounded, the Bruins officially found themselves in their first overtime game of the young season.


3 on 3 overtime is probably one of the best things to come to the NHL since the elimination of the two-line pass call.  It is non-stop action for five minutes (or less).  This overtime period saw a couple rushes into the Buffalo zone by the Bruins, but unfortunately, the puck spent most of the time in the Bruins end.

After Khudobin was bowled over by Rasmus Ristolainen when given a shove by Krug in the crease, Ryan O’Reilly had the entire cage open to him to bury the overtime winner.  The Bruins got penned in their own end, and couldn’t get a line change to save their lives.  After a review of the goal, the call on the ice stood, and the Bruins skated off the home ice defeated.

Next: Who is Paul Postma?

Takeaways from the loss

  • Patrice Bergeron didn’t make it on the scoresheet, but his presence was noticeable nonetheless.  This team missed him in the worst way.  Here’s hoping his lower body injury becomes a thing of the past quickly.
  • Paul Postma and Rob O’Gara had 11:40 and 14:17 TOI respectively.  Neither looked out of place when on the ice, and each did their job.  Overall, solid first outing for both of them.
  • Frank Vatrano, who had a less-than-exceptional training camp and preseason, must not like being in the press box.  He was skating hard every shift, and generated some offensive chances.  He may not have scored, but he made Jack Edwards call his name out a few times.
  • The Bruins have another long layoff, not playing again until Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.  Here’s hoping Krejci, Miller, and Tuukka Rask are on the mend and will be available for that one.  This loss highlights just how important those three players are to this team.