The Boston Bruins topped the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, in a shootout on the heels of a five-game point streak from Craig Smith, a strong defensive game and another solid performance from Jeremy Swayman tonight at the TD Garden.
Smith now has three goals and five assists in five games and scored the go-ahead goal in the second period to help the Bruins control the game.
The Bruins defense aided in the win, with an overall strong night. The blue line accounted for 15 of the team’s 34 shots. Mike Reilly and Jarred Tinordi each had five shots apiece.
Swayman made 21 saves in the win and stopped both shootout attempts.
The Sabres opened the scoring at 1:52 of the first period on their first shot of the game. Dylan Cozens was trying to get the puck to the net but it deflected off Connor Clifton’s skate. Colin Miller slid down to the loose puck and blasted a one-timer top-shelf over Jeremy Swayman’s blocker. 1-0 Sabres.
At 8:06, the Sabres had a goalie-change-up after Linus Ullmark apparently was injured. Dustin Tokarski subbed in for Ullmark who did not return to the game.
It was a quiet start for the Bruins, with low shots on net. Things started to turn around as Sean Kuraly, Curtis Lazar and Chris Wagner had a strong, muscle shift midway through the first. The line came out hitting and driving pucks to the net. They brought the physical play in the offensive zone that was needed to generate some momentum.
“That’s typically what you want out of an effective fourth line - the ability to go and establish a forecheck, get some hits,” Bruce Cassidy said. “Hopefully you get the puck back, make some plays, get our bench going, get the crowd going, Then the next shift over, where you’re feeding off that, obviously you want to manage pucks. Keep it out of your net as much as possible. I thought they did a really good job with that.”
The Bruins answered back at 13:20 of the first period. Jeremy Lauzon fired a one-timer on net. Leaving a big rebound, David Krejci picked up the loose puck and put a backhander past Tokarski. 1-1 game.
The Bruins ended the period with a series of penalty kills, including 29 seconds of a shorthanded 5-on-3. The Bs killed off 23 seconds remaining on the last penalty to start the second and then got some offense going.
The Bruins put the pressure on Tokarski early to start the second period. Kuraly set Wagner up for a shot close in, but Wagner sent it right into Tokarski’s paddings. Charlie McAvoy added offense, as much of the blue line did tonight, by aggressively pinching and shooting down the slot. All this built up to the play to put the Bruins on top.
The Bruins took the lead at 5:29 of the second period. Taylor Hall attempted to send a backhand to Smith, which Miller got his stick on, but Smith was skating through the left face-off circle to pick up the puck for a wrister over Tokarski’s blocker. 2-1 Bruins.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres 13-7 in the second frame. The defense created plays by being offensively aggressively. They got pucks to the net and kept plays alive.
Tinordi was noticeably impactful. After a rough previous game, he jumped into plays and showed his physicality in the defensive zone. He made a huge block on a sequence that saw two viable chances from the Sabres towards the end of the second period. Then he pinched in the offensive zone and got quality shots off.
And shout out to Swayman for the initial save on Cozens. Love his aggressive style.
The second period also saw two fights. Nick Ritchie and Matt Irwin dropped the gloves to start the period, but that had nothing on Kevan Miller’s and Tage Thompson’s dance. Miller delivered a huge hit on Rasmus Asplund which triggered the fight, but I mean, come on. Why would you want to get a smackdown by Miller?? Look at those blows.
The Bruins continued to control the game into the third period. The fourth line had good effort with puck possession. The defense continued to be effective in cycling the puck and creating plays. Mike Reilly had some nice one-timers to show for his efforts tonight. But midway, momentum shifted a bit and gave way to allow the Sabres to build offense.
The Sabres tied the game at 11:53 of the third period. Rasmus Dahlin one-timer from the point deflected off Lazar through traffic and soared top-shelf over Swayman. 2-2 tie game.
One of the several people on the Sabres named Rasmus ties the game midway through the third period. pic.twitter.com/o3hva5e6yS— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) April 14, 2021
The Bruins had a couple chances to pull away with a win in regulation. David Pastrnak missed on a feed from Miller out front. Reilly right before that created a nice play by pinching down and sending a blast at Tokarski. But alas, nothing came to fruition and the game headed to overtime.
Anders Bjork had the chance to end it in overtime but Swayman got his leg on his shot. With 41 seconds left, it looked like Buffalo was going to pick up the extra point with a goal from Cozens, but it was then waved off due to high-sticking.
In the shootout, Swayman stopped Victor Olofsson and Thompson. Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk both scored on Tokarski.
Jake DeBrusk wins it for Boston in the shootout. pic.twitter.com/9gyc7K9pvX— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) April 14, 2021
“Those two shots today were both quality chances and I was super happy to get those saves,” Swayman said. “I practice it every day. Shootouts are my favorite part of hockey.”
Ladies and gentlemen, our rookie goaltender is a bit odd for loving shootouts, but whatever works!
The Bruins gained the extra point for a final score of 3-2.
The Bs are back in action on Thursday against the New York Islanders at 7 pm at the TD Garden.