By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
It’s never a good thing when a Saturday night crowd at TD Garden goes from cheering to booing just 20 seconds into action.
The aftermath of a Chris Wagner goal wiped out by a goaltender interference call, Wagner and the Bruins more than did their part to turn those boos back to cheers, as he re-opened the game’s scoring 9:50 later in a 2-1 win for the Bruins.
In what would become a theme of Boston’s night, the Black and Gold’s fourth line trio of Wagner, Sean Kuraly, and Noel Acciari used brute force to get into the Buffalo zone, and capitalized on the space they established for what was nothing short of an absolute snip through the Sabres’ Linus Ullmark for Wagner’s second goal in the last five games.
.@chriswags23 was not to be denied.#NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/JSgxqtTP5x— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 6, 2019
The B’s would then extend their lead to two as David Backes took an unassisted (the scorers somehow didn’t award Tuukka Rask an assist) rush up ice and put Boston’s second tally through Ullmark for a 2-0 edge at 2:00 of the second period.
????????????@dbackes42 | #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/je4xWCYctQ— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 6, 2019
(Not bad for your first game back from a three-game suspension.)
Boston’s best work undoubtedly came in that middle frame, too, as they outshot Buffalo by a 15-to-10 mark, and seemingly bullied the Sabres around in their own zone. You saw that as three Sabres surrounded Brad Marchand, but mere watched as Marchand won the battle for a gliding puck and dished through them to find Patrice Bergeron all alone between the circles. You saw Zdeno Chara turn on the dangles feature on his 41-year-old legs and stick, leaving a Buffalo skater spinning, and you saw the Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari combo continue to dominate in terms of their puck possession.
It was in that period that Ullmark appeared Swedish for miracle worker.
The Sabres tilted the ice some in the third period, finally generating some quality chances against Rask (and not the quick one-and-done chances that headlined their ‘attack’ through 40 minutes), but a Jake McCabe penalty left them down a man for a full two minutes, stalling their offensive momentum.
That was exposed as Rasmus Ristolainen finally ended Rask’s shutout bid after 31 straight saves with a goal, but left Buffalo with just 2:38 of regulation time to complete their comeback attempt.
The Bruins buckled down from that point on, too, limiting the Sabres to absolutely nothing after that goal.
The Bruins are back at it Tuesday night at TD Garden against the Minnesota Wild.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.