Linus Ullmark (1-0-0, 1.00 goals-against average, .972 save percentage in one game played) made 35 saves on 36 shots against en route to the, 4-1, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Friday.
Ullmark made his Bruins debut against his former team on the road, while Craig Anderson (2-1-0, 2.98 goals-against average, .933 save percentage in three games played) stopped 22 out of 25 shots faced in the loss for Buffalo.
The Bruins improved to 2-1-0 (four points) on the season and into a tie with the Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning for 5th place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Sabres fell to 3-1-0 (six points) and slipped to 2nd in the same division.
Boston went 7-1-0 against Buffalo last season and 3-0-0 against the Sabres in 2019-20.
Nick Foligno (upper body) joined Curtis Lazar (upper body), Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton on the short list of Bruins players out of the lineup due to injury or simply being a healthy scratch on Friday as B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines.
The top-six forwards remained the same, while Tomáš Nosek was promoted to the third line right wing alongside Erik Haula and Jake DeBrusk, while Anton Blidh slid in on the fourth line left wing as Trent Frederic took over at center with Karson Kuhlman on his right side.
On defense, Cassidy reunited Matt Grzelcyk with Charlie McAvoy on the first pairing, while Derek Forbort began the night alongside John Moore, who made his season debut in place of Clifton.
Early in the action, Brad Marchand worked Rasmus Dahlin along the endboards and freed the puck to Patrice Bergeron in the trapezoid, whereby Bergeron dished a short pass to Marchand for the setup to David Pastrnak (1) on a one-timer that was roofed over Anderson’s shoulder.
Marchand (1) and Bergeron (1) collected the assists on Pastrnak’s 201st career National Hockey League goal as the Bruins jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 3:49 of the first period.
Late in the period, despite an onslaught in momentum from the Sabres, Boston skated the other way towards their attacking zone as Charlie Coyle moved the puck from Taylor Hall to Nosek (1) on a tic-tac-goal from point blank on the rush to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
Coyle (1) and Hall (1) tallied the assists on Nosek’s first goal as a Bruin and the B’s led, 2-0, at 15:50 of the opening frame.
Less than a minute later, Boston was shorthanded as Haula slashed Drake Caggiula and cut a rut to the penalty box.
Buffalo’s power play was not effective on their first opportunity.
A couple of minutes later, Moore was assessed a high-sticking minor infraction at 18:34, yielding a power play that would spill into the middle frame for Buffalo, but the Sabres were once again outdone by Boston’s penalty kill in the ensuing special teams action.
Entering the first intermission, the B’s led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Sabres, 15-7, in shots on goal.
Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (10-1), takeaways (3-1), hits (6-4) and faceoff win percentage (65-35), while Buffalo led in giveaways (4-3).
The Sabres were 0/2 on the power play and the Bruins had yet to see time on the skater advantage heading into the middle period.
Dahlin hooked Pastrnak at 3:42 of the second period and presented Boston with their first power play of the night.
Late in the ensuing advantage, Marchand sent a pass through the slot to Coyle (1) for the catch and release shot past Anderson’s short side as the Sabres goaltender slid across the crease but to no avail as the puck hit the twine.
Marchand (2) and Mike Reilly (1) collected the assists on Coyle’s power-play goal at 5:17, and the B’s led, 3-0, as a result.
As the second intermission drew near, Hall hooked Dylan Cozens and cut a rut to the sin bin at 17:50, but Buffalo couldn’t capitalize on the skater advantage in the dying minutes of the second period.
Through 40 minutes of action, the Bruins led, 3-0, on the scoreboard despite being outshot by the Sabres, 26-18.
Both teams managed to fire 11 shots each on net in the second period alone, however.
Boston still held the advantage in blocked shots (15-5), hits (13-8) and faceoff win% (61-39), while Buffalo led in giveaways (6-4) and both teams managed to amass five takeaways aside.
The Sabres were 0/3 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.
The Bruins were without Blidh to start the third period and would later tweet that Blidh (upper body) would not return to Friday night’s action about midway through the final frame.
At 7:00 of the third period, Caggiula found himself on the way to the penalty box after hooking Nosek.
This time around, however, Boston did not score on the ensuing power play.
Late in the period, Victor Olofsson (2) scored from close range to disrupt Ullmark’s bid for the shutout in his Boston debut.
Rasmus Asplund (1) and Colin Miller (5) notched the assists on Olofsson’s goal as the Sabres trailed, 3-1, at 14:35 of the third period.
Less than a couple of minutes later, Hall tripped up Miller and presented Buffalo with another power play that went by the wayside at 16:02 of the final period.
With 2:47 remaining in the game, Sabres head coach, Don Granato, pulled his netminder for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Hall (2) emerged from the penalty box without issue and cleared the Bruins of what would’ve been an icing call before tapping the rubber biscuit into the empty goal frame for the insurance marker.
Coyle (2) had the only assist on Hall’s goal as the Bruins took a, 4-1, lead at 18:12 of the third period and with it the victory on the road in Buffalo.
At the final horn, Boston had won, 4-1, and finished the night trailing the Sabres in shots on goal, 36-26, including a, 10-8, advantage for Buffalo in the third period alone.
The Bruins wrapped up the night leading in blocked shots (22-6), hits (14-12) and faceoff win% (63-37), while Buffalo exited their own building leading in giveaways (8-4).
The Sabres went 0/4 on the power play, while Boston went 1/2 on the skater advantage Friday night.
As a result of the win, the Bruins improved to 2-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 2-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 1-0-0 (1-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 2-1-0 (2-1-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-1-0 (2-1-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 0-1-0 (0-1-0 at home) when trailing through two periods in 2021-22.
Boston returns home to host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday before heading back on the road for a pair of games against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes next Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
After swinging through Sunrise, Florida and Raleigh, North Carolina, the Bruins finish the month of October on home ice against the Panthers next Saturday (Oct. 30th).