Recap: Strong first period powers Bruins to win over Sabres

On Thanksgiving Eve, the Boston Bruins were facing a Buffalo Sabres team who were losers of three in a row and had given up at least five goals in all three of those matches.

Boston extended each of those streaks, defeating Buffalo 5-1 to improve to 10-6-0. The Bruins had five different goal scorers and Jeremy Swayman made 24 saves for his sixth win of the season, on his birthday no less.

With the loss, the Sabres dropped to 7-9-2.

1st period

Buffalo got on the board first when noted Bruin-killer Kyle Okposo ripped one by Swayman off the rush.

It’s not the best goal for Swayman to give up, especially with both teams playing evenly at this point. Nonetheless, the Bruins found themselves down early.

Well that didn’t last long. About two and a half minutes later, Patrice Bergeron cleaned up a loose puck near the crease to even the score.

Seventh of the season for Bergeron that snapped a three-game pointless skid.

Just 51 seconds later and the Bruins grabbed the lead with a snipe from Charlie Coyle.

Exceptional placement from the Weymouth native. He’s up to six goals already this season, matching his total from last year. He’s no David Krejci, but the offensive production has been much better than expected out of Coyle.

Boston wasn’t done. With three minutes left, David Pastrnak clapped a one-timer on the power play under the arm of Aaron Dell.

Pasta is up to seven goals and 11 assist on the season. He’s back into form after his slow start.

Three wasn’t enough for the Bruins, as Mike Reilly made it 4-0 with a minute left in the period.

Some puck luck as the puck never hit and bounced from the loose sticks on the ice and Reilly fired it into the open net.

For the second time in three games, the Bruins recorded more than 20 shots in the first period.

2nd period

After giving up four in the first, the Bruins chased Dell out of the game, as head coach Don Granato replaced him with Dustin Tokarski for the second.

Given the poor performance in the first, the frustration boiled over into the second from Buffalo, and within the first two minutes of the period, ex-Bruin Colin Miller dropped the gloves with Nick Foligno. Second fight in three games for Boston, and Foligno’s first of the season.

The Sabres certainly responded better in the second frame than the first. They outplayed the Bruins, but weren’t able to get anything else by Swayman.

The prime opportunity for the Sabres came when John Hayden was awarded a penalty shot after Derek Forbort took him down. But Swayman stayed with Hayden on the penalty shot, keeping it a 4-1 game.

3rd period

After Buffalo outplayed Boston in the middle period, the Bruins came out buzzing again. They were outshooting the Sabres 10-0 by the halfway point and it wasn’t until about eight minutes left in the game that the Sabres got their first shot of the period.

Things got ugly with six minutes left, as Zemgus Girgensons hit Charlie McAvoy, who went face-first into the dasher. He was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. McAvoy left the game with a towel on his forehead.

On the ensuing power play, Taylor Hall added a little insurance to Bruins’ lead, sniping one top shelf on Tokarski.

And that was that! Bruins got back in the win column with the 5-1 in and defeat the Sabres for the second time this season.

Notes

  • OK the first period. I mean wow. The Okposo goal certainly woke the Bruins up and they putted four goals in a span of under six minutes. Talk about a quick strike offense
  • The power play went 2-for-3 and technically it was only 0-for because the five-minute major kept going even after the Hall goal. Good looks even when they didn’t score, but solid showing
  • Swayman probably wants the Okposo goal back, but another strong showing from the youngster. He’s up to 6-3-0 on the season with a 2.39 GAA and .914 SV%
  • Multi-point efforts out of Pastrnak, Bergeron, Coyle and Foligno. Good to see the second line get going the way it did
  • Another very good game from Jakub Zboril. He’s earned a spot in this lineup night in and night out until further notice
  • Good news on McAvoy after the game. Bruce Cassidy said after the game he got a few stitches, but should be ready to go for Friday. Major crisis avoided
  • OK this is something Bruins fans don’t want to hear, but that wasn’t that bad of a hit from Girgensons. Let me explain. When Girgensons is committing to the hit, it’s going to be shoulder-on-shoulder. But McAvoy turns at the last second and it goes from hitting the shoulder to hitting behind on the shoulder blade almost and pushing him head-first into the boards. The penalty was definitely called due to the result of the play, not the play itself. Andy Brickley mentioned something similar on the NES broadcast. McAvoy has to be careful turning so late when he knows a hit is coming, it puts him in a vulnerable spot
  • Can Kyle Okposo please stop scoring against the Bruins? Please? Thanks
  • Four straight losses and four straight games giving up at least five goals is not a winning formula for the Sabres

So the Bruins head into the holiday on Thursday at 10-6-0 with a game against the New York Rangers on Friday. Cassidy already said Swayman will be back in the net for that one, another sign he’s starting to pull away from Linus Ullmark as the No. 1 starter.

Until then, stuff yourself with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, apple pie and whatever else is on the Thanksgiving menu. Spend some time with your loved ones and enjoy the day off.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!