The Bruins outshot the Sabres, 36-27, allowed an early power-play goal and failed to capitalize on five man-advantages of their own.
“It was a battle,” Bruce Cassidy said. “There are no easy games.”
The Sabres opened the scoring at 2:01 in the first period with a power-play goal. Sam Reinhart intercepted a clearing attempt by Daniel Vladar and netted a backhander past Vladar as he tried to get back in net. 1-0 Sabres.
The first period was sub par for the Bruins. Despite outshooting the Sabres 13-10 through the first 20 minutes, there were only a few moments of real offensive pressure where the Bs could have tied the game.
The Sabres carried the play as the Bruins kept turning over the puck over and over. The Bruins made sloppy, incomplete passes and gave the Sabres space and shooting lanes.
The Bs had two man-advantage opportunities and couldn’t get any quality shots. Both units overpassed and lost two chances to get on the board.
The Bruins tied the game at 11:41 in the second period on a delayed penalty. Matt Grzelcyk picked the puck up along the right boards and traveled to the high slot for a wrist shot that went top-shelf over Linus Ullmark’s glove. 1-1.
The Sabres took the lead at 14:12 in the second period. Vladar couldn’t make another diving stick save this time around. Kyle Okposo found Henri Jokiharju’s rebound for a backhander past Vladar’s stick. 2-1 Sabres.
The Sabres outshot the Bruins 14-8 in the second period. The Bruins only had two shots in the first ten minutes of the second, as they let the Sabres control the ice.
But the third period started with the Bs playing more of their game and gaining entries into the offensive zone. The Bruins came out of the locker room shooting, but getting better quality chances on net. The Bs also controlled plays better with neutral zone breakouts.
“We played winning hockey in the third period,” Cassidy said.
The Bruins tied the game at 5:21 in the third period. After Charlie McAvoy skated the LARGEST circle around just about every Sabres player on the ice, he threw the puck towards net and Nick Ritchie found the loose puck at the post to put a goal low past Ullmark’s stick. 2-2.
The Bruins took the lead and ultimately held on for the win at 16:10 in the third period. David Krejci sent a backhand towards the top of the crease where Craig Smith picked up the puck for a quick wrister past Ullmark’s glove. 3-2 Bruins.
Craig Smith gives the Bruins the lead. pic.twitter.com/O3Vb7pREOY— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 27, 2021
A win is a win and the Bruins needed the points. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t a quality 60-minute game, but they managed to score two 5v5 goals to hand the Sabres their 17th straight loss.
The Bruins are back in action tomorrow at 5:30 pm against the New Jersey Devils.