By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
For the second game in the row, an overflowing barrage of chances came from the Boston Bruins, but the goals did not follow, as Linus Ullmark and the Buffalo Sabres escaped TD Garden with a 4-2 win.
And like they did in Pittsburgh on Friday night, the Bruins found offense from their backend, as both Steven Kampfer and Torey Krug came through with goals for the Bruins, but it was their misses up front that undoubtedly stuck out in the loss.
"We’ve wanted to guard against just selling out [defensively] because we haven’t scored enough to get into those trade chances type of games. We’ve lost them the last two nights, right? It just hasn’t gone our way," B's coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Now whether we’ll continue to do that who knows, but I don’t think that’s our formula right now, all things considered. It’s just not going in. We had another goal taken off the board again tonight, like in Pittsburgh, that could’ve been the difference as well. So, we’ve got to be careful when they activate, and he picked a good time tonight in order to make a good play."
On a night that featured an 0-for-27 mark from their forwards' sticks, the Bruins saw point blank chances from Heinen and Donato go anywhere besides the back of the net, while their power play struggled to capitalize on space given to them.
The Bruins even had a disallowed goal of sorts, as Brad Marchand appeared to score on a loose puck in front of Ullmark, but was quickly (an oxymoron if there ever was one) after a review from the referees on a play that apparently wasn't reviewable in the first play. Because that couldn't be more 'NHL video review' if we tried, to be honest.
"I think it was a poor call," Cassidy said after the loss. "The puck’s visible. We scored the goal. There’s no goalie interference. At least the other night in Pittsburgh it’s on the goalie; you could see where they could lose it. My beef is, you know I’m not a big fan of review, but the reason it’s brought in in the first place in any sport is to get the call right, and I thought there was a clear example of it’s a good goal. The puck was never frozen, no goalie interference.
"You’d hope the get that one right, so for me it’s a head scratcher how that one gets off the board especially when the National Hockey League has been preaching how to get goals. In September the video comes out that unless it’s something really, really egregious we want to keep the goals. I was very surprised when that one came off the board."
But perhaps no Boston chance was better than the one that came off Ryan Donato's stick by way of a penalty shot awarded to the Scituate, Mass. native late in the first period of a then-scoreless game.
"I think what happened was I was trying to do something similar to the last move; he didn’t bend on the first move, so I thought that if I kept it going that way, I would have it and maybe I did a little too much," Donato said. "But if I got it up I would’ve scored. At the end of the day I was falling down, so I couldn’t get it up."
It was just one of the 35 stops Ullmark made on the night, which was more than enough for his seventh win of the year.
But for all of the bellyaching that will come with the Bruins' chances left on the board, an obvious acknowledgement of the straight-up excellence displayed by Buffalo's one-two punch of Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel is worth mentioning.
Eichel left the Bruins spinning on Skinner's first goal, as he came through with a reverse pass that left Skinner all alone. He then added a goal of his own with an absurd snipe that Tuukka Rask had no chance on, and it was Skinner that provided the game-winning goal as the Bruins struggled to find their proper d-zone coverage late in the third period. Not to be outdone by No. 53, the Sabres' Eichel would ice the game with an empty-net goal, good for a four-point night for the local boy.
"[Eichel]'s line clearly had their way, no matter who we put out there and it ended up being the difference in the game," Cassidy said. "So, that was the gist behind it, and at the end of the day their best players out played ours, from the goalies to the top line. Another tough one that we probably deserved points in, but we’re not getting it."
The Bruins will make their way to Montreal for a Monday night meeting with the Canadiens.