As has often been the case for Claude Julien and company during the first half of the season, the Bruins came out flat in the first period falling behind 2-0 after 20 minutes. In what could of been an ugly night in the first leg of a home-and-home with the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins bounced back with four unanswered goals to secure the much needed two points.
Although the Bruins are happy with the two points, they know they need more 60-minute efforts and need to be better in the first period.
Here is what we learned from Thursday’s 4-2 win in Buffalo:
Bruins’ leaders finally stepping up
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 30, 2016
Desperately looking for a spark after trailing by two and being outshot 16-9 at the end of the first, the Bruins got a much-needed lift from their leaders. From Tuukka Rask making crucial saves, to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci’s second period tallies to even things up and Ryan Spooner’s third period heroics (see below) the Black and Gold got contributions from their best players in timely moments.
Though the bad starts are something that needs to be addressed, Julien was more than happy to see his best players step up in Buffalo.
“Our leaders did a great job. Krejci’s been playing well of late and Bergeron [and] Marchand looked more like the Bergeron [and] Marchand that we know with their chemistry. We talked about Spooner and he’s been playing well as of late and Tuukka was solid for us tonight,” the 10th-year Bruins coach told the press postgame.
“There’s a lot of credit to go around, but we have an issue here that if we can fix that it’ll make things a lot easier.”
The issue of secondary scoring has been front and center with the Bruins this season. But on Thursday the Bruins got offensive contributions from a handful of bodies including Spooner, who scored two third period goals, including the game-winner, to secure the victory.
Since trade rumors started to swirl surrounding Spooner, the 24-year old has six points in his last five games. From creating chances to being more assertive without away from the puck, Spooner is starting to find his groove again.
Bruins lose David Backes:
Late in the first period, David Backes took a high hit from Sabres’ forward William Carrier and did not return to the game after the hit. While trying to gain the red line, Carrier came from the side and nailed Backes in the head. The former Blues captain does have a history with concussions.
Carrier surely will be hearing from the league after his hit.
Bruins, Sabres turn up physicality:
After Carrier’s hit on Backes, things started to get physical. Once Carrier returned to the ice after his penalty, Adam McQuaid made sure to introduce himself. Despite the officials’ efforts to step between McQuaid and Carrier, the two exchanged and landed some heavy punches.
With these two teams meeting in Boston on Saturday, expect the physical play to carry over into TD Garden for their final matchup of the 2016-17 season.