In the nicest way possible, the Buffalo Sabres are a team the Bruins should not lose to, something the Bruins did Thursday night in Buffalo. With those very same Sabres in town for the final leg of a home and home with their Atlantic Division rivals, the Bruins took care of business in front of a sold out TD Garden crowd Saturday night.
Behind Reilly Smith’s two goals and 34 saves from Tuukka Rask the Bruins avoided back-to-back losses to the leagues’ worst team beating the Sabres, 4-1.
After a poor performance in Buffalo on Thursday the Bruins knew they needed to be better at home Saturday, and better is exactly what they were.
“I think last game [Thursday in Buffalo] our forecheck wasn’t great. We weren’t really turning too many pucks over. We saw a lot of scoring chances but if you don’t put them in the back of the net then it doesn’t matter” said Smith who scored his 10th and 11th goal of the season Saturday night.
“I think that was one of the biggest focuses tonight was bearing down on your chances and I think we did a good job doing it.”
As the Bruins continue to fight the injury bug, the club is continuing to find ways to win. A big reason as to why the Bruins were able to bounce back and pick up their 24th win of the season Saturday was their perfect penalty kill. The Bruins killed off six Sabres power plays including two five-on-three advantages.
Head coach Claude Julien mixed things up on the penalty kill when the team was down two men as he used rookie defensemen Torey Krug and David Warsofsky as forwards.
“Well yeah I think we got to a point there when you [Chris] Kelly is injured, [Daniel] Paille – another penalty killer – is injured, then you got just [Gregory] Campbell and [Patrice] Bergeron to bob so you’re getting a little bit thin here” said Julien.
“So we ended up – Dave is a pretty smart player also so we put him up front – and then we had Spoons [Ryan Spooner] ready for that but also Spoons and Kruger [Torey Krug], two guys that are smart and quick, up top is what we look for in that penalty kill with those two guys in the penalty box and they did a good job. It was just – you kind of ad-lib every once in a while and be creative and that’s what we tried to do.”
As strange as it was seeing Warsofsky and Krug as the forward on the penalty kill, seeing Patrice Bergeron dropping the gloves was equally as strange.
Bergeron got into it with Sabres’ giant Tyler Myers. The fight was Bergeron’s third career NHL fight. Bergeron’s previous two were postseason bouts with Canadiens blue liner Josh Georges and Penguins sniper Evgeni Malkin.
“Yeah I mean it’s just I guess one of those things that it was in the heat of the moment. And we were kind both going at each other – cross-checking each other – and we just decided to I guess you know obviously drop the gloves” said Bergeron.
Despite not finding the back of the net, the line of Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser was excellent Saturday night. The trio was all over the ice, creating scoring chances left and right. Soderberg and Spooner did pick up assists on Smith’s first period power play goal.
As Spooner continues to gain confidence you see him becoming smarter with the puck. The more confident Spooner gets with his game, the better things will get for himself and the Bruins.
“I remember I made a play in the first where there was a guy coming at me and I kind of took it on my backhand and put it under his stick, skated up and I think it was Soderberg that got a pretty good chance out of it” said Spooner.
“I remember in Calgary I had a couple chances to kind of do the same and I just kind of flipped it out of the zone so, I guess I’m just getting a little more comfortable.”
See what Bergeron, Lucic, Smith, Tuukka Rask and David Warsofsky had to say after Saturday’s victory.