Boston threw a wrench in Detroit‘s playoff plans, as they beat them 5-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.
They struck their first only 1:25 into the contest with a David Pastrnak backhander, assisted by John-Michael Liles (his 15th helper of the season) and Colin Miller. 1:19 later, Boston doubled their lead when Third Star of the Game Brad Marchand connected on a snap shot, assisted by First Star Torey Krug (his 39th helper of the season) and Patrice Bergeron, which ended up being the final tally of the period.
The game winner found the back of the net at the 5:02 mark of the second period on the power play, courtesy of Krug after assists from Loui Eriksson and Second Star David Krejci (his 45th helper of the season). Detroit finally got on the board at the 6:59 mark on a Alexey Marchenko wrister, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg (his 36th helper of the season) and Gustav Nyquist. That was the last score of the period, so the score read 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Only 20 seconds after returning to the ice, the Bruins struck another insurance goal, this one a Lee Stempniak snap shot, assisted by Krug (his 40th helper of the season) and Marchand. 25 seconds after that, Eriksson set the score at 5-1 with a tip-in, assisted by Krejci (his 46th helper of the season) and Ryan Spooner. Detroit takes credit for the final goal of the game, struck with 1:23 remaining by Andreas Athanasiou, assisted by Marchenko and Kyle Quincey.
Tuukka Rask earns the win after saving 13 of 15 shots faced (86.7%), while Jimmy Howard takes the loss, saving 21 of 26 (80.8%). He was replaced after Eriksson’s third period goal by Petr Mrazek, who saved all eight shots faced.
The Bruins‘ win is the second straight for home sides in the DtFR Game of the Day series, setting the season series at 82-45-19, favoring the home teams by 42 points over the roadies.
We’ve only got one game on the schedule this evening, so we’re headed off to Buffalo for a 7 p.m. eastern puck drop on NHLN and BELL TV!
This will be Columbus‘ third appearance in the DtFR Game of the Day series, where they own a 0-2-0 record. Last time they were featured was October 22, a 3-2 loss in Minnesota. Buffalo has been featured three times before tonight’s game, and own a 1-2-0 record in such situations. Their lone win in the series was in their last appearance, a 3-2 victory in Ottawa on January 26.
The 34-35-11 Buffalo Sabres rank seventh in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference. Although they play the 15th worst defense, they’ve been held back by the fifth worst offense.
Led by Josh Gorges’ 162 blocks, the Sabres have allowed 2445 shots to reach 22-16-4 Chad Johnson and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for 215 goals against, the 15th most in the NHL. The defense has been spearheaded by the defensive special team, which has killed 82.79% of their penalties for only 37 goals against, the eighth best rate in the league.
The major pitfall has been on the offensive end. Even with the injured Evander Kane’s 271 shots, Buffalo has only fired the puck 2357 times, with 8.2% finding the back of the net for 196 goals (led by Jack Eichel’s 24 tallies), the fifth fewest in the league. Again, the Sabres have actually been fairly successful on the special teams, scoring on 18.95% of their power play attempts, which is good for 47 power play goals, the 11th best rate in the league.
The Sabres enter tonight’s game on a three game winning streak, with their most recent being Tuesday’s 3-1 victory at New Jersey.
The 32-40-8 Columbus Blue Jackets are the worst team in the Metropolitan Division and second worst in the Eastern Conference. They’ve gotten there playing the 12th worst offense, paired with the second worst defense.
Even with Brandon Saad’s 229 shots, the Jackets have fired the puck 2332 times, with 8.7% finding the back of the net for 210 goals (led by Boone Jenner’s 30 tallies), the 12th fewest in the NHL. Part of the problem has been that Columbus has not capitalized on opportunities, as their 16.8% power play success rate, good for 41 extra man goals, is the eighth worst in the league.
The defense has been a bigger issue. Even with Ryan Murray’s 170 blocks, Columbus has allowed 2471 shots to reach 14-19-1 Sergei Bobrovsky and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 90.9%, allowing 247 goals in the process, the second most in the league. In comparison, the penalty kill has actually been decent, neutralizing 81.11% of their infractions, allowing 51 power play goals in the process, the 14th worst rate in the league.
The last game Columbus played was Wednesday’s 5-1 victory in Toronto.
Buffalo has already won the season series 2-0-0, with the most recent meeting ending 4-0 on February 19 in Columbus.
Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Buffalo‘s Ryan O’Reilly (59 points, including 38 assists, with 24 occurring at even-strength [all lead the team]) and Columbus‘ Cam Atkinson (52 points, including two shorthanded goals [both lead the team]), Brandon Dubinsky (30 assists, with 26 occurring at even-strength and 224 hits [all lead the team]) and Saad (23 even-strength goals and seven game winners on 229 shots [all lead the team]).
Buffalo should have this game in the bag. Both their offense and defense are superior to the Jackets‘, and they enter their home game riding a winning streak. I’ve got Sabres winning easy.