The Wraparound: Sabres 4, Bruins 1
The Boston Bruins don’t lose often. Unless they play the Buffalo Sabres, that is.
The Sabres earned another victory over Boston on Sunday, picking up a 4-1 win in KeyBank Center. The teams completed their season series, and the Sabres won three of the four games.
Buffalo’s success was a role reversal. Boston was 7-0-1 in its last eight visits.
The Bruins fell to 37-15-8 this season while the Sabres improved to 19-33-11. Sabres goaltender Chad Johnson made 34 saves.
What’s that sound?: The Sabres have been booed off the ice after plenty of periods this season. The fans gave them a nice ovation following the first as Buffalo headed to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead despite taking just six shots.
On the board: Trade candidate Benoit Pouliot opened the scoring, boosting his stock with his 12th goal of the year. Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin fired from the point, and goaltender Anton Khudobin’s rebound went right to Pouliot. The left winger buried it with 5:34 left in the first.
Pouliot has three goals in four games against Boston this season.
All-around effort: Sam Reinhart drove into the Bruins’ zone, prompting Boston captain Zdeno Chara to hook him. During the power play, Reinhart parked himself in front of Khudobin for a screen. Kyle Okposo took advantage, going top shelf from the top of the circle with 3:29 remaining.
Okposo has three goals and 15 points in his last 15 home games.
Offensive defenseman: Bruins rookie Charlie McAvoy, drafted six spots after Buffalo selected Alex Nylander at No. 8 in the 2016 NHL Draft, continued his stellar freshman year to cut the Sabres’ lead to 2-1. David Pastrnak emerged from the corner and fought off Marco Scandella’s hook to find McAvoy, who recorded his sixth goal and 28th point in 56 games with 3:35 gone in the second.
Slapped silly: Evan Rodrigues looked like he put jet fuel in his stick midway through the second, unleashing an absolute rocket to give the Sabres a 3-1 lead. A loose puck slid to the right dot, and Rodrigues stepped into it for his fifth goal of the year.
Gassed: The Sabres’ quintet of Johan Larsson, Jason Pominville, Pouliot, Justin Falk and Nathan Beaulieu got stuck on the ice late in the second period. Boston circled the offensive zone and unloaded 10 shots before Buffalo could make a change. Beaulieu’s shift length was 4:02, followed by 3:42 for Falk, 3:22 for Pominville and Larsson, and 3:02 for Pouliot.
Throw it at the net: Any shot can be a good shot, as Scandella proved. He scored from a bad angle along the right boards with 3:22 gone in the third. Khudobin looked bad, letting the puck go between his legs as Buffalo made it 4-1.
Antipin earned an assist, giving him his first multipoint game.
Bald for Bucks: Sabres studio analyst Martin Biron took part in a first-intermission fundraiser, getting his head shaved by host Brian Duff. It was for Bald for Bucks, which raises money for research and patient care at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Defensive switch: Falk returned to the lineup, replacing Josh Gorges, and skated with Beaulieu. The other pairs were Scandella-Rasmus Ristolainen and Antipin-Casey Nelson.
Back to the box: Larsson’s run of games without a penalty again ended at one when he was called for slashing with 5:13 to play. Larsson is up to eight minor penalties, a major, a match and a two-game suspension in his last 11 games.
Warm welcome: There were hundreds if not thousands of Bruins fans in attendance, and they gave a loud round of applause to newly acquired Rick Nash the first time the right winger controlled the puck. Boston picked up Nash from the New York Rangers and also signed former Sabres captain Brian Gionta, who did not play but watched from a suite.
The Sabres announced 18,522 tickets sold.
Next: The Sabres will take Monday off, but General Manager Jason Botterill will be busy as the NHL trade deadline hits at 3 p.m. The Sabres will play Wednesday night in Tampa Bay and visit the Florida Panthers on Friday.