With all of the hoopla that took place prior to the NHL season, it is hard to imagine that we have only two weeks left in the regular season.
The Boston Bruins have seven games remaining in their 2013 campaign and the table is set for them to catch momentum to carry into the playoffs. Speaking of which, the Bruins just needed one point to clinch a playoff spot.
They were in action on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres. This was the first game in what was supposed to be a four-game homestand for Boston at the TD Garden. However, the game on Monday was cancelled due to the events that took place at the Boston Marathon. That game will be played on Sunday, April 28th.
This was also the final meeting between these two teams this season. This particular rivalry was an interesting one to say the least. Although the offseason moves made by the Sabres did not help them in the Eastern Conference overall, it sure helped them against the Bruins. The season series was tied at 2-2 coming into this game, so the B's have been evenly matched both physically and on the scoreboard against this Buffalo team.
Prior to the game, it was announced that Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were going to be back in the lineup after both missed time due to concussions. Dougie Hamilton also made his return after being a healthy scratch the last two games. Wade Redden made his Bruins debut in this game in place of Adam McQquaid. Lastly, Jordan Caron was sent back down to Providence in anticipation of players returning from injuries. The Bruins lineup was back to full strength.
After an emotional rendition of the National anthem by Rene Rancourt and the Boston faithful to get the Garden rocking, the game was on.
In the first period, the Bruins came out strong offensively, but they were a little shaky defensively. Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin probably made a few more saves than he would have liked to in the first 20 minutes. Daniel Paille put the B's on the board first when he slid the puck underneath Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Despite their carelessness with the puck (five giveaways), the Sabres managed to tie the game on the power play. Thomas Vanek was the goal scorer for Buffalo.
Boston amped up the physical play in the second period. The increase in hits led to scoring chances for the Bruins, which is Black and Gold hockey 101 right there. Chris Kelly scored the only goal of the period to put the Bruins back on top. This was his 100th career goal. Kelly and Paille also recorded an assist on each others goal as well. This was a productive night for the third line, which also comprised of Nathan Horton.
The Bruins dominated the face-off dot all night, but during a key penalty kill in the third period, they failed to win the face-off and that led to the game-tying goal scored by Cody Hodgson on the power play. The Sabres fought back to send the game into overtime.
After a scoreless and entertaining extra period of hockey, Drew Stafford beat Khudobin in the third round of the shootout to stun the fans on hand. Buffalo defeated Boston by a final score of 3-2.
With Montreal losing earlier in the night, Boston is now in a tie with the Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division. We will see the Bruins in the playoffs yet again.
The Bruins will be back in action on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Gold Star: Chris Kelly (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2 rating, 67% face-offs won)...His offensive production and his solid play on the penalty kill was worthy of being considered one of the best players on the ice.
Black Star: Milan Lucic...Apparently being moved down to the fourth line did not get the message for this guy. He made use of the ice time that he had, but nothing more than that.
*Carl Soderberg joined the Bruins on Wednesday morning and participated in the morning skate. He did not skate in this game, but he should see some ice time in the coming days.