Jake DeBrusk scored a pair of power play goals 18 seconds apart in the Boston Bruins’, 3-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Sunday night.
Tuukka Rask (15-4-5 record, 2.31 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 24 games played) made 24 saves on 26 shots against (.923 SV%) in the win for the Bruins.
Sabres goaltender, Linus Ullmark (11-10-3, 2.80 GAA, .913 SV% in 24 games played) stopped 19 out of 22 shots faced for an .864 SV% in the loss.
Boston improved to 24-7-9 (57 points) overall and remained in command of the Atlantic Division, while Buffalo fell to 17-16-7 (41 points) and remained in 6th place in the Atlantic.
The B’s also improved to 14-1-8 at home on the season.
The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Torey Krug (undisclosed) and Charlie McAvoy (undisclosed) on Sunday.
Boston’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple minor changes to his lineup from Friday night’s, 3-0, shutout in Buffalo.
Brett Ritchie returned to the lineup and was reunited with Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle on the third line, while Sean Kuraly returned to his role as the fourth line center with Joakim Nordstrom on his left wing and Chris Wagner on his right wing.
Par Lindholm joined David Backes in the press box for the B’s as their only healthy scratches against the Sabres on Sunday.
Boston kicked things off with eight skaters on the ice for a too many skaters on the ice minor penalty at 2:50 of the first period– yielding the game’s first power play to Buffalo.
The Sabres weren’t able to convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.
Midway through the opening frame, David Pastrnak (29) scored on a one-timer after Patrice Bergeron fed Brad Marchand with a stretch pass through the neutral zone and the two first line wingers entered the attacking zone on a 2-on-1.
Marchand (39) and Bergeron (18) had the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as the Bruins took the, 1-0, lead at 12:39 of the first period.
Moments later, Wagner tripped Sabres blue liner, Brandon Montour, and was assessed a minor infraction at 16:35. Buffalo didn’t score on their second power play of the night.
Entering the first intermission, the Bruins led the Sabres, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing in shots on goal, 7-2.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (9-3), while Buffalo led in giveaways (4-3), hits (16-7) and faceoff win percentage (67-33).
Both teams had two takeaways aside, while the Sabres were 0/2 on the only skater advantages of the period.
Just 15 seconds into the middle frame, Henri Jokiharju tripped Marchand and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night.
Boston’s power play was powerless as Buffalo’s penalty kill shifted momentum towards the Sabres– culminating in a goal early in the second period.
Rasmus Ristolainen (4) flung a shot at the net that Rask saved, but Zdeno Chara bopped the puck off his own goaltender and into the twine as the puck squibbed through the Bruins netminder at 6:37 of the second period.
Sam Reinhart (19) and Marcus Johansson (11) tallied the assists on Ristolainen’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1.
Midway through the second period, Jimmy Vesey sent the puck over the glass and out of play– yielding an automatic delay of game penalty at 11:02.
Boston’s power play continued to struggle once again and couldn’t score while Vesey was in the box.
A few minutes later, Evan Rodrigues was in the sin bin for tripping Steven Kampfer at 14:11, but the B’s didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Shortly thereafter, the Bruins tweeted that their defender, Connor Clifton, wouldn’t return to the game after sustaining an upper body injury earlier in the action.
After 40 minutes of play in Boston, the Bruins and Sabres were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard with Buffalo holding the advantage in shots on goal, 19-13.
The Sabres also led in takeaways (7-4) and hits (23-15), while the Bruins led in blocked shots (10-7), giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win% (52-49).
Buffalo went 0/2 on the power play through two periods, while Boston went 0/3 on the skater advantage entering the third period.
Early in the final frame of regulation, Johan Larsson took two penalties– one for tripping DeBrusk and another for hooking Marchand– at 1:23 of the third period and presented the Bruins with a 5-on-4 power play for 4:00.
While on the power play, Kampfer fired a shot from the point that DeBrusk (10) redirected past Ullmark while skating through the slot for his first power play goal of the night at 2:37.
Kampfer (1) and Pastrnak (29) notched the assists as Boston took the lead, 2-1.
Just 18 seconds later, DeBrusk (11) fired a shot from about a foot before the goal line along the boards and trickled the puck between Ullmark’s leg pad and the right post to give the B’s a two-goal lead.
David Krejci (20) and Kampfer (2) had the assists on DeBrusk’s second power play goal of the game and the Bruins led, 3-1, at 2:55 of the third period.
Less than three minutes later, Curtis Lazar (2) pounced on a loose puck in the crease while on a delayed penalty call against Boston and tapped the rubber biscuit into the net after Rask made the initial save.
Ristolainen (15) and Jack Eichel (28) tallied the assists on Lazar’s goal and the Sabres trailed, 3-2, at 5:08.
Late in the third period, Ritchie tripped Rasmus Dahlin, but the Sabres weren’t able to capitalize on their last power play of the night at 15:51.
With 2:27 remaining in regulation, Buffalo’s head coach, Ralph Krueger, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker and used his timeout to drum up a plan to tie the game.
Things didn’t go as planned as Reinhart broke Brandon Carlo’s stick with a slash at 19:43, which left a bad taste in the Sabres’ mouths– especially Eichel’s, apparently, as the Buffalo captain was ticked off and exchanging words with an official until he received a misconduct and was sent to the showers with 17 seconds to spare in the game.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 3-2, despite finishing the night trailing the Sabres in shots on goal, 26-22.
Boston wrapped up Sunday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (13-10), hits (28-25) and faceoff win% (51-49).
Meanwhile, both teams had 10 giveaways aside as the Sabres finished 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s went 2/6 on the power play.
The Bruins improved to 17-5-5 when scoring the game’s first goal this season, 15-3-1 when leading after the first period and 6-2-3 when tied after two periods this season.
Boston finishes the month of December (and 2019) in New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon against the Devils before kicking off 2020 with a two-game homestand against Columbus on Thursday and Edmonton on Saturday.