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NHL Nick's Net

Coyle caps first two-goal comeback win for Boston this year

Charlie Coyle scored the game-winning goal 34 seconds into overtime to secure a, 4-3, victory for the Boston Bruins against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon at TD Garden.

It was the first two-goal deficit comeback win of the season for the Bruins as Linus Ullmark (8-5-0, 2.55 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 13 games played) made 21 saves on 24 shots faced in the win.

Sabres goaltender, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (2-3-2, 2.41 goals-against average, .927 save percentage) turned aside 37 out of 41 shots against in the overtime loss.

Boston improved to 15-10-2 (32 points) on the season and remained stuck in 5th place while pulling to within one point of the Detroit Red Wings in the Atlantic Division standings for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Buffalo fell to 10-17-6 (26 points) overall– trapped behind the Bruins in 6th place in the Atlantic.

The B’s also improved to 8-5-1 at home this season, as well as 3-0-0 against the Sabres in 2021-22 with one game remaining against Buffalo on April 28th at TD Garden.

After losing, 3-1, to the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Dec. 16th, six games were postponed due to Boston’s COVID-19 outbreak that led to the Bruins earning a 16-day holiday break instead of the usual three days off for Christmas.

Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, Brandon Carlo and Coyle were all added to the COVID protocol list that already featured names like, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Patrice Bergeron, Trent Frederic, Anton Blidh, Jeremy Swayman and Oskar Steen prior to the shutdown for the B’s (and eventual league pause as all 32 teams received a couple of extra days off– bookending the scheduled holiday break).

Seven players were cleared to return when testing resumed on Dec. 26th, Steen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) and the rest of the players in protocol cleared by New Year’s Eve.

Meanwhile, the National Hockey League reinstated the use of a taxi squad of up to six players until the 2022 All-Star break after pulling out of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

As such, John Moore was assigned to Boston’s taxi squad with the anticipation of unrestricted free agent goaltender, Tuukka Rask, joining the roster soon too, which could mean that Swayman ends up getting the bump to the press box until February upon Rask’s return.

Also, if you’re wondering what Rask’s rehabilitation stint would look like, it’s been reported by The Athletic‘s Fluto Shinzawa that Rask would get a few games in Providence while the B’s are on the road in Tampa and Detroit before officially rejoining Boston and returning to NHL action after being sidelined from offseason hip surgery.

Of course, when Rask returns and if the taxi squad goes away, the Bruins might feel it’s best for Swayman’s development to continue to get some game action and send him to the AHL for the remainder of the year– rolling with NHL veteran netminders, Ullmark and Rask, down the stretch.

With everyone back from COVID protocol, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, juggled his lines on Saturday against Buffalo.

Marchand and Bergeron suited up on the first line and were joined by Smith on right wing as David Pastrnak was demoted to the second line with Erik Haula at center and Hall at left wing.

Coyle centered the third line with Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno on his wings, while Tomáš Nosek anchored the fourth line, flanked by Frederic and Lazar.

On defense, Cassidy paired Matt Grzelcyk with Charlie McAvoy on the first defensive pairing and rounded out his top-four defenders with Mike Reilly alongside Carlo.

Derek Forbort suited up with Connor Clifton on the third pairing while Jakub Zboril (torn ACL in his right knee) is out for the rest of the regular season since sustaining an injury on Dec. 2nd in Nashville and undergoing surgery on Dec. 16th.

With Moore designated for the taxi squad and Zboril out due to injury, Blidh and Karson Kuhlman were the only healthy scratches for Boston on Saturday.

Alex Tuch opened the day’s action with a cross checking infraction 13 seconds into the first period, yielding the afternoon’s first power play to Boston.

The Bruins, however, weren’t able to capitalize on their first skater advantage of the game.

Moments later, Vinnie Hinostroza (6) riffled a shot from the high slot that may have deflected off of Foligno and into the twine under Ullmark’s blocker– giving the Sabres a, 1-0, lead at 6:33 of the first period.

Brett Murray (4) and Rasmus Dahlin (15) tallied the assists on Hinostroza’s first goal back from being in the league’s COVID protocol.

Less than a minute later, Anders Bjork cut a rut to the sin bin against his former team for boarding Forbort at 7:07.

Once more, though, Boston wasn’t able to score on the power play.

Heading into the first intermission, Buffalo held onto a, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard, despite trailing the Bruins in shots on goal, 13-5.

The Sabres held the advantage in blocked shots (4-2), giveaways (6-1) and faceoff win percentage (54-46), while the B’s led in takeaways (2-1).

Both teams had seven hits aside after one period of play, while only the Bruins had any time on the skater advantage and went 0/2 heading into the middle frame.

Jeff Skinner tripped up Marchand 31 seconds into the second period and presented Boston with another chance on the power play that ultimately went by the wayside.

Though they didn’t score on the advantage, the Bruins did manage to catch the Sabres in the vulnerable minute after special teams play as Smith (3) buried a rebound from the doorstep on a garbage goal– tying the game, 1-1, at 3:47 of the second period.

Marchand (17) and McAvoy (12) notched the assists as the B’s got on the scoreboard.

Less than a minute later, Haula cut a rut to the box for holding the stick at 4:19 and was shortly followed by his teammate at 5:33 when Nosek tripped up Peyton Krebs.

Buffalo went on a 5-on-3 power play for the next 45 seconds and even used their timeout to draw up a plan for the two-skater advantage, but couldn’t muster anything past Ullmark as Boston’s penalty killing unit stood tall in front of their goaltender.

Midway through the period, however, Tuch fired a shot that rebounded right to the slot as Skinner (10) crashed the net and sent the puck past Ullmark’s glove side to give the Sabres the lead once again, 2-1.

Tuch (2) and Tage Thompson (9) had the assists on Skinner’s goal at 11:32 of the second period.

A few minutes later, Tuch made a visit to the penalty box for interference at 14:17, but Boston wasn’t able to score on yet another power play.

Shortly after killing off Tuch’s minor, Buffalo went on the advantage as Smith was penalized for hooking Luukkonen at 18:25.

It didn’t take the Sabres too long to capitalize on the ensuing power play as Tuch (1) wired a shot over Ullmark’s blocker for his first goal as a Sabre at 19:11 of the second period.

Krebs (1) and Thompson (10) had the assists on Tuch’s power-play goal and Buffalo extended their lead to two-goals, 3-1, as the middle frame winded down and gave way to the second intermission.

Through 40 minutes of action at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon, the visiting Sabres led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, despite the home team Bruins dominating in shots on goal, 26-14, including a, 13-9, advantage in the second period alone.

Buffalo maintained the advantage in blocked shots (8-3), takeaways (4-1), giveaways (6-2) and hits (11-10), while the two teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.

The Sabres were 1/3 on the power play, while the Bruins were 0/4 heading into the final frame of regulation.

DeBrusk led a charge into the attacking zone with a burst of speed and a shot that rebounded off of Luukkonen back into the slot as Foligno (1) crashed the net and elevated a backhander over Luukkonen’s outstretched pads for his first goal in a Bruins uniform at 3:24 of the third period.

DeBrusk (4) had the only assist on Folingo’s goal as the B’s trailed, 3-2.

Boston rallied with momentum on their side as Hall (6) broke into the attacking zone and patiently waited before sending a toe-drag snap shot over the glove side of the Sabres netminder to tie the game, 3-3, at 4:50 of the third period.

Grzelcyk (6) and McAvoy (13) notched the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins scored a pair in a span of 1:25.

Midway through the third, Smith tripped Dahlin and presented the Sabres with the last power play of the afternoon at 13:27 of the third period.

Buffalo did not convert on the ensuing advantage.

In fact, neither team managed to score in the remainder of regulation, necessitating overtime after a brief sound of the horn to signal the end of 60 minutes of action.

Boston led in shots on goal, 40-23, and had a, 14-9, advantage in the third period alone.

The Sabres led in blocked shots (10-9), takeaways (4-2) and giveaways (9-2), while the Bruins led in faceoff win% (51-49). Both teams amassed 14 hits each.

As there were no penalties called in the overtime period, Buffalo finished the afternoon 1/4 on the power play, while Boston went 0/4 on the skater advantage.

Cassidy sent out Bergeron, Marchand and McAvoy to begin the extra frame while Sabres head coach, Don Granato, countered with Skinner, Thompson and Dahlin.

It didn’t take long for both teams to barely get through the first shift of overtime and start replacing players one-by-one as Coyle touched the ice– fresh from the bench.

Marchand skated deep into the offensive zone before dropping a pass back to Coyle in the high slot whereby Coyle (8) sent the rubber biscuit high over Luukkonen’s glove side to seal the deal on a, 4-3, come from behind overtime victory for Boston.

Marchand (18) and McAvoy (14) had the assists on Coyle’s game-winner 34 seconds into overtime and the Bruins kicked off 2022, in the win column.

The B’s finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 41-24, despite both teams managing to fire one shot on net in overtime alone.

Boston also wrapped up Saturday’s action leading in faceoff win% (52-48), while Buffalo exited TD Garden leading in blocked shots (10-9), giveaways (9-2) and hits (15-14).

The Bruins improved to 1-1 in overtime this season (2-2 past regulation), while the Sabres fell to 1-5 in overtime (3-6 past regulation) in 2021-22.

The B’s improved to 5-6-2 (4-3-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-5-1 (3-2-1 at home) when trailing after the first period and 3-7-2 (3-3-1 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 7-5-3 (3-3-3 on the road) when scoring first, 2-1-2 (1-1-2 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-2-4 (3-2-2 on the road) when leading after two periods in 2021-22.

The Bruins venture to Detroit for a quick visit against the Red Wings on Sunday before hosting the New Jersey Devils next Tuesday (Jan. 4th) and Minnesota Wild next Thursday (Jan. 6th). Boston then visits the Tampa Bay Lightning next Saturday before swinging through Washington, D.C. on Jan. 10th.

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Bruins amass 47 shots in, 5-1, win on the road

After giving up the game’s first goal, the Boston Bruins pounded the Buffalo Sabres into submission with five unanswered goals and 47 shots on net in a, 5-1, victory at KeyBank Center Wednesday night.

Jeremy Swayman (6-3-0, 2.23 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in nine games played) made 24 saves on 25 shots faced in the win.

Meanwhile, Sabres goaltender, Aaron Dell (0-4-0, 4.57 goals-against average, .862 save percentage in five games played), made 18 saves on 22 shots against before being replaced by Dustin Tokarski (3-4-2, 3.27 goals-against average, .904 save percentage in 11 games played) after the first period.

Tokarski turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in relief of Dell for no decision.

The Bruins improved to 10-6-0 (20 points) on the season, but stuck in 5th place in the Atlantic Division as the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets all won their respective matchups on Wednesday night– keeping Boston out of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as the season reaches the American Thanksgiving benchmark for gauging success.

Teams that are in playoff position by the time American Thanksgiving rolls around tend to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs about 78% of the time.

As for the Sabres, they dropped to 7-10-2 (16 points) overall and stuck behind the Bruins in the Atlantic, sitting in 6th place in the division.

The B’s also improved to 2-0-0 against Buffalo this season with two more matchups against the upstate New York based club on Jan. 1st and April 28th (each remaining game is at TD Garden in Boston).

Trent Frederic (upper body) remained out of the lineup for Boston on Wednesday, while Linus Ullmark was relegated to the role of the backup goaltender after tweaking something during morning skate.

Other than that, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made one minor change to his lineup– promoting Matt Grzelcyk up to the first defensive pairing with Charlie McAvoy and relegating Derek Forbort to the second pairing alongside Brandon Carlo.

Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman served as healthy scratches for the B’s in Buffalo.

Jakub Zboril opened the action with a cross checking infraction at 2:25 of the first period when he knocked down John Hayden in front of Boston’s own net.

The Sabres, however, weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

After David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand couldn’t connect on a 2-on-1 opportunity in the other end (Marchand failed to corral a rebound), Kyle Okposo (5) received a pass from Rasmus Asplund while entering Buffalo’s attacking zone and wiring a shot through Patrice Bergeron’s legs over Swayman’s blocker side as the Bruins captain inadvertently screened his own goaltender.

Asplund (7) had the only assist on Okposo’s goal and the Sabres led, 1-0, on the scoreboard at 10:56 of the first period.

A few minutes later, though, Bergeron (7) pounced on a rebound and elevated a backhand shot over Dell while the Buffalo netminder was sprawled out in desperation to snag the puck and cover it up for a faceoff in his own zone.

Pastrnak (11) and Marchand (13) tallied the assists on Bergeron’s goal and the Bruins tied it, 1-1, at 13:29.

51 seconds later, Boston took the lead and started to run away with the rest of the night as Charlie Coyle (6) sent a shot over Dell’s glove on the short side and under the crossbar to put the B’s ahead, 2-1, at 14:20.

Nick Foligno (2) had the only assist on Coyle’s goal, which matched his season total (six goals) from 2020-21, in 35 fewer games.

About a minute later, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 15:30 of the first period.

It only took Boston 69 seconds on the skater advantage to find the back of the net on a patented one-timer under the blocker from Pastrnak (6) at the faceoff dot to Dell’s right side to extend the Bruins’ lead to two-goals.

McAvoy (10) and Bergeron (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s power-play goal and the B’s took a, 3-1, lead at 16:59.

With one minute remaining before the start of the first intermission, Zboril sent a puck towards the net that deflected off of his own teammate (Foligno) before Mike Reilly (2) pinched in from the point for the goal on the mostly empty twine to make it, 4-1, Boston.

Foligno (3) and Zboril (3) notched the assists at 19:00 of the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, the Bruins carried a, 4-1, lead into the dressing room and a, 22-8, advantage in shots on goal.

Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (2-1) and giveaways (4-0), while Boston led in hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (71-29).

Both teams had three blocked shots each.

The Sabres were 0/1 and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Sabres head coach, Don Granato, replaced Dell with Tokarski ahead of the second period after Dell allowed four goals against in the opening frame on 22 shots faced.

Less than a couple minutes into the second period, Foligno and former Bruins defender, Colin Miller, became entangled in a battle as the puck went the other way, yielding an exchange of fisticuffs between Foligno and Miller and resulting five-minute majors for fighting at 1:42.

It was the fourth fighting major for Boston this season (and first since McAvoy fought Joel Farabee in Philadelphia on Nov. 20th).

Midway through the second period, Forbort tripped up Hayden and the on-ice officials deemed a penalty shot would suffice as a result.

Hayden skated in towards Swayman, but the Bruins netminder made the routine stop as though it were a regular breakaway in the first penalty shot that he faced in his young National Hockey League career.

Not much else happened after that in terms of scoring and penalties as neither team hit the back of the net or served an infraction other than Foligno and Miller’s majors for fighting in the second period.

Through two periods, the Bruins held onto a, 4-1, lead, as well as a, 29-22, advantage in shots on goal, despite Buffalo outshooting Boston, 14-7, in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (7-6), hits (22-14) and faceoff win% (66-34) entering the second intermission, while the Sabres held the advantage in takeaways (6-4) and giveaways (6-2).

Buffalo was 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston was still 1/1 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Not too much was happening as the two teams went through the motions until about midway in the third period, when Zemgus Girgensons checked McAvoy along the boards and sent the star Bruins defender into the glass face first.

Girgensons was assessed a major for boarding as McAvoy took an extra minute to get off the ice (presumably with a head injury) and an official review upheld Girgensons’ major infraction and game misconduct, yielding a five-minute power play to the Bruins at 13:46 of the third period.

Arttu Ruotsalainen glided over to the penalty box to serve Girgensons’ major as the B’s went to work on the skater advantage.

About midway in the power play, Coyle setup Craig Smith who tossed a pass over to Taylor Hall (5) for the one-timer power-play goal against his most recent former team– extending Boston’s lead to four goals in the process.

Smith (2) and Coyle (5) had the assists on Hall’s goal as the Bruins pulled ahead, 5-1, at 15:26 of the third period.

The B’s didn’t score on the remainder of Girgensons’ major, but then again, not much else happened after Hall’s goal.

Boston wracked up shots on goal and held the Sabres to just three shots against in the third period alone as the final horn sounded– signaling a, 5-1, win for Swayman and the Bruins.

The Bruins exited the building with the advantage in shots on goal, 47-25, including an, 18-3, advantage in the third period alone, as well as the lead in hits (27-18) and faceoff win% (69-31).

Buffalo left their own rink with the lead in giveaways (8-4), while both teams recorded 10 blocked shots apiece.

The Sabres went 0/1 and the Bruins went 2/3 on the power play in Wednesday’s effort.

After the game, Cassidy told reporters that McAvoy “[was] good” and received some stitches but won’t know that much more until Thursday as it would depend on if “[McAvoy] wakes up feeling good tomorrow and is ready to go Friday.”

Boston improved to 3-3-0 (1-2-0 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 8-0-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 7-1-0 (4-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

Buffalo fell to 5-4-1 (3-2-0 at home) when scoring first, 2-6-1 (2-3-1 at home) when trailing after one and 0-7-0 (0-5-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins finish the month of November with a three-game homestand starting with Friday’s matinee matchup with the New York Rangers on ABC in the 2021 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday (Nov. 28th) and Detroit Red Wings next Tuesday (Nov. 30th).

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Ullmark makes Bruins debut in, 4-1, win against former team

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).

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Bruins down Sabres, 5-2, extend gap with Rangers

The Boston Bruins got the most out of their top-six forwards on Thursday night in a, 5-2, victory over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden as Tuukka Rask (13-4-2, 2.27 goals-against average, .916 save percentage in 21 games played) made 29 saves on 31 shots faced in the win.

Sabres netminder, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1-2-0, 3.75 goals-against average, .908 save percentage in three games), had 35 saves on 39 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 29-14-6 (64 points) on the season and remain in command of 4th place in the MassMutual NHL East Division– six points ahead of the New York Rangers, who remain on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture.

Buffalo fell to 13-31-7 (33 points) overall and stagnant in 8th place (last) in the division.

The B’s are now 6-1-0 against the Sabres this season with one more game remaining in their regular season series on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins were without Ondrej Kase (upper body), John Moore (hip), and Brandon Carlo (upper body) on Thursday, while Craig Smith was a game-time decision due to an issue that was resolved prior to warmup with his COVID testing.

As Smith’s issue was absolved, Jake DeBrusk remained a healthy scratch, while B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made minor adjustments among his forwards.

Trent Frederic, Sean Kuraly and Charlie Coyle made up the third line, while Nick Ritchie, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner comprised the fourth line.

Jaroslav Halak served as Rask’s backup with Jeremy Swayman earning the night off.

Meanwhile, Boston’s long list of healthy scratches, taxi squad members and injured players including, Swayman, Greg McKegg, Carlo, Moore, Kase, Steven Kampfer, Jakub Zboril, Callum Booth, DeBrusk, Anton Blidh, Karson Kuhlman and Jarred Tinordi.

Jack Ahcan was sent to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Wednesday, while Urho Vaakanainen was also reassigned to Providence on Thursday ahead of Boston’s game against the Sabres.

The P-Bruins season is winding down and will not feature a postseason following it as the American Hockey League announced on Thursday that for the second straight year, there would be no traditional Calder Cup Playoffs.

Only the AHL’s Pacific Division elected to have a playoff tournament to determine a division champion, while the rest of the AHL’s division title winners will simply default to the team that finishes the season with the best regular season record.

Providence is currently 1st in the Atlantic Division with a 14-6-1-1 record on the season.

Meanwhile, starting May 10th (vs. N.Y. Islanders), TD Garden will increase their limited seating capacity from 12% to 25% in accordance with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 reopening plans.

A little over a minute into the action on Thursday night, David Pastrnak (19) rocketed a one-timer past Luukkonen from his typical spot near the faceoff dot on a pass from across the slot to make it, 1-0, Boston at 1:16 of the first period.

Patrice Bergeron (24) and Brad Marchand (33) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s 199th career National Hockey League goal.

Late in the period, Casey Mittelstadt (10) buried a rebound after the Bruins turned the puck over in their own defensive zone and were caught behind the play.

Arttu Ruotsalainen (1) and Rasmus Asplund (3) notched the assists on Mittelstadt’s goal as the Sabres tied the game, 1-1, at 14:09.

Moments later, Buffalo forward, Sam Reinhart, tripped Pastrnak and presented the Bruins with their first power play of the night at 18:05.

Late in the ensuing skater advantage, as the final second on the clock was winding down prior to the first intermission, David Krejci (8) sent a one-timer off the post that had eyes off of Luukkonen’s back and trickled into the net to give Boston a, 2-1, lead heading into the first intermission.

Charlie McAvoy (23) and Smith (18) had the primary and secondary assists on Krejci’s power-play goal at 19:59.

After one period, the B’s led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and held the advantage in shots on goal, 13-11.

Meanwhile, Buffalo held the advantage in takeaways (4-3), giveaways (4-3), hits (13-9) and faceoff win percentage (59-41). Both teams had two blocked shots apiece while the Sabres had yet to appear on the skater advantage and the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Lazar interfered with Reinhart and presented the Sabres with their first power play of the night at 5:36 of the second period, but Boston’s penalty kill did its job and went unscathed on the scoreboard.

Late in the middle frame, Rasmus Dahlin hooked Marchand and cut a rut to the penalty box at 14:50, but Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

Through 40 minutes of action on Thursday, Boston led Buffalo, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 28-22, in shots on goal, including a, 15-11, advantage in the second period alone.

The Sabres maintained a hold in blocked shots (6-4), takeaways (8-4), hits (22-17), while the Bruins led in giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (63-37).

Buffalo was 0/1 and Boston was 1/2 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Reinhart (23) tied the action, 2-2, with a quick release from the slot, while Victor Olofsson (17) and Jeff Skinner (6) worked the puck deep into the zone and earned the assists on Reinhart’s goal at 1:43 of the third period.

Almost midway through the final frame, Coyle (6) stole the rubber biscuit in the neutral zone and charged up the ice– forcing his own breakaway into fruition while Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen trailed on his back– before roofing the puck top-shelf for his first goal in 28 games.

Coyle’s individual effort was unassisted and ended the longest scoring drought in his career thus far (nine years) and made it, 3-2, for Boston at 7:58 of the third period.

Moments later, Krejci and Dahlin got tangled up in a bit of a heated exchange in which Krejci was handed a minor for interference and Dahlin received a holding infraction, yielding two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 13:30.

Just as the two clubs resumed 5-on-5 play, Smith worked the puck to Krejci while No. 46 in black and gold broke into the attacking zone by deking around Dahlin, then toe-dragging around Henri Jokiharju before setting up Taylor Hall (7) for the one-timer goal at 16:43.

Hall’s goal gave Boston some insurance with a, 4-2, lead, while Krejci (26) and Smith (19) had the assists.

About a minute later, Connor Clifton, slashed former teammate, Anders Bjork, and presented Buffalo with a power play at 17:47.

Sabres interim head coach, Don Granato, pulled Luukkonen for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail as Marchand (27) sent the puck into the open net from his own end on a floater of a shot just under the bar for his 31st career shorthanded goal.

Marchand’s empty net goal was unassisted at 18:26 and the Bruins secured the, 5-2, victory as a result at the final horn.

Boston finished the night leading in shots on goal, 40-31, including a, 12-9, advantage in the third period alone.

Buffalo finished the night leading in his (30-24), while the B’s wrapped up Thursday’s action with the advantage in blocked shots (9-7), giveaways (10-8) and faceoff win% (59-41).

The Sabres went 0/2 on the power play, while the Bruins finished 1/2 on the skater advantage.

Boston improved to 21-5-3 (10-0-2 at home) when scoring the game’s first goal, 17-0-2 (9-0-1 at home) when leading after the first period and 20-0-2 (12-0-2 at home) when leading after two periods in 2020-21.

Buffalo, meanwhile, fell to 6-26-2 (3-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 3-20-0 (2-8-0 on the road) when trailing after one and 1-26-2 (0-11-1 on the road) when losing after the second period this season.

The Bruins face the Sabres to kick off the month of May on Saturday afternoon before hitting the road for a pair of games next week in New Jersey against the Devils. Boston went 11-5-1 in the month of April.