Rapid reaction: Sabres 7, Bruins 6 (SO)
January, 1, 2011
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com
Four defensemen lit the lamp for the Boston Bruins on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, but it wasn’t enough as Boston blew two leads to lose their second straight shootout, 7-6.
Drew Stafford notched his second hat-trick in as many games against the Bruins, with his third goal tying the game with 27.8 seconds left in regulation. Stafford, Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis then beat Tim Thomas in the shootout while Tyler Seguin (goal, assist) and Michael Ryder beat Ryan Miller. But Miller stopped Zdeno Chara (goal, assist) and the Sabres came away with the two points.
The Bruins have now taken six of a possible eight points in the first four games of this five-game road trip that will conclude Monday with a visit to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here's a breakdown of the keys in Saturday's loss:
Seguin snaps out of scoring funk. Rookie Tyler Seguin entered this game mired in an eleven-game scoreless streak. He snapped out of his funk in a big way Saturday. Seguin scored his first goal since Dec. 1 at 3:08 into the third period to tie the game at five and then assisted on a go-ahead goal just less than four minutes later when he set up Steven Kampfer at 7:06 to give the Bruins a 6-5 lead. Seguin also scored in the shootout. In his first multipoint game, he was creating scoring chances throughout, and despite missing some of his own, he didn’t get frustrated and finished strong. There will be more valleys for the 18-year-old Seguin, but he's building some confidence.
Defense getting involved offensively but getting burned as a result. It’s always good when the defense can play a major role offensively, as the Bruins did Saturday night with four defensemen -- Steven Kampfer, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference -- lighting the lamp. It was the first time in Bruins history that four defensemen scored in a single game. The Bruins blueliners have been pinching more and really creating scoring chances out there. On the flip side, they are allowing more odd-man rushes and breakaways. The Bruins need to make sure they’re keeping at least one defenseman back if they’re going to activate the defense into the offense. Still, this is a good sign to see the defense chipping in and scoring.
Rask gets pulled. After sitting on the bench for the past seven games, goalie Tuukka Rask was given his first start since Dec. 15, ironically a 3-2 loss in Buffalo. This latest start in Buffalo didn’t go well, either, as Rask looked rusty and lacked composure. Just prior to the Sabres’ first goal, a Jason Pominville tally at 2:06 of the first period, Rask decided to come out and get in a battle for the puck with Thomas Vanek. The move proved to be costly because by the time he got back in position, the Sabres were buzzing and Pominville scored on a clearly distracted Rask. Then, in the final minute of the period, Rask was beat by Drew Stafford when he couldn’t hug the post and control the puck as it slid underneath him. Rask argued with the referees that he had control of the puck, but the replays proved otherwise. While Rask wasn’t completely to blame for the three goals allowed in the first period, he just didn’t seem to have it on this night. One has to wonder now where his confidence will be after this rough outing.
Offensive explosion in first period. The Bruins finished their 4-3 shootout loss at Atlanta on Thursday with plenty of shots and offensive pressure, outshooting the Thrashers 32-20 in the final two periods and overtime. They carried that offensive pressure into this game and were able to light up 2010 Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller for four first-period goals. The problem was that the Sabres were able to beat Tuukka Rask for three goals as the two teams combined for seven goals in a wild back-and-forth opening frame. The Bruins will gladly take a hot offense but they can’t be giving up three goals in the first period.
Drew Stafford was a Bruin killer. When the Bruins play the Sabres next, they might want to really focus on No. 21 in blue and gold. Drew Stafford scored all three goals in his team’s 3-2 win over the Bruins on Dec. 15 and on Saturday, Stafford had another hat-trick with his third lamplighter tying the game with 27.8 ticks left in regulation. He then added salt in the wound with a shootout goal, as well. He now has six goals in his past two games against Boston. The University of North Dakota product has good speed, size and a rocket of a shot that seems to find the twine every time he plays the Bruins.