BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 23: Paul Gaustad #28 of the Buffalo Sabres fights with Milan Lucic #17 of the Boston Bruins early in the first period at First Niagara Center on November 23, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It was the game that everyone had hoped it would be.
For 15 minutes, anyway.
After that, a hockey game broke out at First Niagara Center and the Buffalo Sabres, who started with so much energy and passion, couldn't sustain it through 65 minutes as they fell to the Boston Bruins in the shootout, 4-3.
On the third shift of the game, Paul Gaustad skated calmly out to the left of the face-off dot in front of Tim Thomas, adjacent to Milan Lucic and the two dropped gloves. Lucic scored the takedown, and one would presume that would be all.
But that wasn't all, as Nathan Gerbe took exception to Brad Marchand a few shifts later and started a five-on-five scrum in the net behind Thomas, with Zdeno Chara and Robyn Regehr opting to drop gloves and duke it out. The fight yielded little in the way of results, but with Chara off the ice for five minutes, the Sabres went to work.
Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek scored on consecutive power plays, giving the Sabres a 2-0 lead after the first period, but the Bruins got back to within one when Tyler Seguin put a bomb past Jonas Enroth at 3:37 of the second period.
A Derek Roy attempt went off a Bruins skate and directly to the stick of rookie TJ Brennan, who was playing in his first career NHL game, and he neatly deposited the puck in an open side to put the Sabres back up by two.
Five minutes later, Seguin found Brad Marchand who found the back of the net to put Boston back within one after two periods. Then, 3:35 into the third, Zdeno Chara ripped a bomb from the high slot that tied the game up.
It would remain tied through regulation, despite David Krejci going off for hooking Nathan Gerbe with just 1:03 left in the final period, putting Buffalo on the power play. The Bruins killed regulation off, but with 57 seconds remaining of the kill in overtime, the Sabres set up shop inside the Bruins' zone. A few big saves by Tim Thomas kept the score locked and the Bruins killed the penalty.
Each team traded chances over the final four minutes of the extra period, and despite Buffalo's defense bailing on him, Enroth was up to the task each time the Bruins got the puck close.
The game ended in a tie, but per NHL regulations any time a game ends tied, there was an individual skills competition that took place at the game's conclusion.
Four and a half rounds of that skills competition resulted in the goaltenders looking fantastic, but that crafty Benoit Pouliot and his mustache beat Enroth glove-side on the tenth try, giving the Bruins the win, extending their winning streak to ten and