Five from afar: Sabres 3, Bruins 2

Five thoughts and observations after watching from afar as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a Northeast Division matchup Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.

Drew Stafford led the Sabres' offensive attack with a hat trick, including a pair of power-play goals. The Bruins’ David Krejci and Michael Ryder (PPG) each scored for Boston. Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller (11-8-3) made 32 saves, while the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask (2-7-1) also made 32.

While the Sabres went 2-for-5 on the man-advantage, the Bruins went 1-for-5, including a 5-on-3 for 49 seconds.

The Bruins entered the game 12-0-1 this season when scoring the first goal, but suffered their first loss in that category.

After this tough loss, the Bruins face another Northeast Division rival when they travel to Montreal to meet the Canadiens on Thursday night at Bell Centre.

1. LEADS LOST: The Bruins had the lead twice in this game, and both times their advantage didn’t last long. After Krejci scored at 17:29 of the first period, Stafford posted his first power-play goal of the night 1:12 later. After a scoreless second period, Ryder’s ninth tally of the season gave Boston its second lead at 6:21 of the third, and this one lasted only 32 seconds before Stafford notched his second of the game, at 6:53.

2. A TOUGH NIGHT: The Bruins’ Shawn Thornton is more than just a pugilist. He’s been playing extremely well this season in every aspect of the game. Thornton, Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell have been called the “energy line” all season and they continue to play well. That was the case again Wednesday against the Sabres, but Thornton had a bittersweet night. He did a solid job drawing a penalty that resulted in Boston’s second goal of the game, a power-play tally by Ryder at 6:21 of the third period to give the Bruins the advantage. But the Sabres capitalized 32 seconds later when Thornton’s cross-ice pass was intercepted at Boston’s blue line and resulted in Stafford’s second goal as Buffalo tied it 2-2.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Thornton was later called for goaltender interference (coach Claude Julien questioned the call after the game) while doing what he does best: crashing the net and creating havoc in front. During the ensuing power play, Stafford netted his third of the game to give the Sabres a 3-2 lead at 10:55.

3. POCKET WHISTLE: I’m usually not one to criticize the on-ice officials, but there were two questionable calls against the Bruins that resulted in a pair of power-play goals for Buffalo, and that made the difference in this one. The Bruins’ Milan Lucic was called for boarding at 17:49 of the first period after he made a solid play by taking the body in the corner. Then the goaltender interference on Thornton also was a bad call. Yes, Thornton did collide with Miller, who was outside the crease, but there’s no way that should be called in that situation.

4. SEGUIN SCRATCHED: Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin was a healthy scratch. He missed the previous game against the Flyers due to flu-like symptoms, but was able to practice with the team this week. The 18-year-old forward sat at press level with Bruins assistant coach Doug Jarvis to get a bird’s eye view of the game. In 27 games this season, Seguin has five goals and five assists for 10 points.

5. MR. MILESTONE: Bruins assistant captain Mark Recchi played his 1,600 game Wednesday night, becoming the ninth player in NHL history to reach that milestone. Former Bruins defenseman and Hall of Famer Ray Bourque is in eighth place on the all-time list with 1,612. Recchi notched his 1,500th career point on Nov. 24 against Florida to become the 13th player in NHL history to reach that plateau.