The Buffalo Sabres found yet another way to lose Wednesday, putting together 40 fairly strong minutes before collapsing in the third period of a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins. The game was likely the last one John Scott will play in for some time, as a big hit he delivered helped the Bruins ice the game.
Buffalo ended the first 20 minutes still with only one first-period goal on the season. But the Sabres put forth a decent opening effort, controlling much of the physical play and limiting the Bruins to seven shots. One of those went in, though, as a Jarome Iginla shot deflected off Milan Lucic and under Ryan Miller, who slowed the puck with his pads but couldn't squeeze them fast enough to stop it.
"We can't have bad things happen right now," said Miller, who made only 29 saves on the night. "It's just not the kind of mistakes we can make right now."
That came just minutes after a sprawling pad save in which Miller kicked out his left leg to knock away the puck, which was within a couple inches of crossing the red line. That came near the halfway point of the period and was his first real test of the night, as the Sabres came out strong early. Buffalo outhit the Bruins for the period 12-3 and kept control of the action for far longer than they tend to do early in games.
"We want to set the pace," said Sabres forward Steve Ott. "Our starts have been terrible all season, so we tried to set the pace."
That pace was further lost early in the second period. Lucic lunged forward to tip an Iginla past Miller just to the left of the goal to give Boston a 2-0 lead just 40 seconds in. The Sabres weather a tough stretch after that before Cody Hodgson rifled a Thomas Vanek pass past Chad Johnson at the eight-minute mark to halve the deficit on the power play.
The Bruins weren't phased. Buffalo's inability to cover rushing forwards on the wing hurt the team again when Dougie Hamilton tipped a Brad Marchand past Miller to reclaim a two-goal lead for Boston. Rookie Nikita Zadorov once again chipped into the Boston lead, though, coming in from the point to backhand a shot past Johnson at the 15-minute mark for his first career NHL goal.
The Sabres as a whole, however, seemingly were in the final period. Torey Krug gave Boston a two-goal lead four minutes in at the tail end of a four-on-four. That goal stole Buffalo's spirit, as the Sabres managed only two third-period shots to Boston's 13.
"We can't allow that four-on-four goal," Rolston said. "We had better energy early, for sure."
Buffalo completely lacked for energy late, even after Scott's hit. He lowered his shoulder into the chin of Loui Eriksson at the 5:49 mark and was immediately pummeled by Adam McQuaid. Scott received a match penalty for the hit – and faces a likely suspension – and the Bruins further lengthened their lead on the ensuing power play. Krug beat Miller from the left faceoff circle with 10 minutes left to ice the victory.
"They're a veteran-based team that just kind of took over and steamrolled us in the third," Ott said of the Bruins. "They've got a strong team over there."
"This is the kind of game you're going to get out of the Bruins," Miller said. "That's just not going to get it done."
Marcus Foligno had two assists for the Sabres. Lucic added an assist for Boston. Chad Johnson made 14 saves to win his season debut for Boston.
The Bruins improve to 6-2-0. Buffalo falls to 1-9-1. The Sabres next play Friday in Miami against the Florida Panthers.
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