BOSTON -- As is usually the case when the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres meet, Thursday night's game at TD Garden was won on net-front presence. The Bruins were solid in the first period, taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission and looking strong in the low slot at both ends. But the first-period effort was negated by some Bruins gaffes, and the Sabres came away with the 4-2 victory.
Nathan Horton was spectacular on the offensive end in the first period. He came up with the game’s first great scoring opportunity, taking a breakaway and deking to his left before Miller got his right pad on it and deflected to the glass. Horton then set up the first goal of the game by swooping into the crease for a nice screen on Ryan Miller, allowing Dennis Seidenberg’s one-timer from the point to skim Miller’s sleeve and deflect backward into the net.
Things went sour over the final 40 minutes, though. Horton was picked off by Tim Connolly in his own zone in the second period, leading to Cody McCormick’s rebound off his own snap shot that tied the score at 1-1. Then five minutes into the third, his kick-out to the left point skipped off Seidenberg’s tape, leading to a 2-on-1 led by Thomas Vanek, who beat Tuukka Rask to the far side for a 3-2 lead.
Seidenberg looked good early, getting his fourth goal of the season and pushing Sabres forwards out of the dirty areas in front of Rask, but was also on the ice for Nathan Gerbe’s wide-open power play goal at the left circle at 10:36 for a 2-2 tie. With Jochen Hecht screening in front, Rask looked like he had committed to Tyler Myers as he wound up at the left point before sliding it across the ice to Gerbe.
Meanwhile, Steve Kampfer, after some quality pokes early on skating with Zdeno Chara on the top defensive pairing, made a crucial turnover late in the third period that led to the 4-2 Sabres advantage. Kampfer fumbled a pass at the top of the circle and fell trying to recover it from Vanek, who went on the rush again and set up Jason Pominville for a beautiful tip-in at the far post. That gave Vanek his 14th point in his past nine games.
Here are some quick thoughts on the Bruins' loss:
ENERGY LINE -- The fourth line once again provided spark, as Shawn Thornton’s strong forechecking helped the Bruins take a 2-1 lead at 4:51 of the second. Thornton won the puck off the boards and slid it up to the top of the right circle, where Blake Wheeler redirected it out to Gregory Campbell in the high slot and Colin’s kid blasted one past Miller.
FERENCE RETURNS -- Adam McQuaid and Dan Paille were healthy scratches while Andrew Ference returned to the lineup after missing the past three games with an upper body injury. Placed on the second defensive pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, Ference logged 18:22 of ice time and finished even with a missed shot and a hit.
GOALIE MATCHUP -- Tuukka Rask got the loss in net tonight, surrendering four goals and making 29 saves to fall to 4-9-1 on the year. Ryan Miller came up with the win, making 38 saves to improve to 18-14-4.
UP NEXT -- Boston heads out for a two-game West Coast road trip, at the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday and at the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, before heading back home to host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday, followed by the All-Star break in Raleigh, N.C.