By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Hockey is a sometimes nonsensical game with no time for reason or rational thought.
Thursday’s head-to-head between the Bruins and Sabres gave us an example of this.
In a contest that began with a Rasmus Ristolainen goal (his first since Jan. 2019, also scored in Boston), the Bruins did not find themselves on the board with a shot on goal until the 12:11 mark of the first period. By that point, they had been outshot by a staggering 14-0 mark, and their first shot of the night was a Brandon Carlo floater heaved from just inside the blue line. The shot was met with some deserved sarcastic cheers from a TD Garden crowd, as the B’s looked listless, lifeless, and lost.
But the Bruins evened things up on their second shot of the night (a Brad Marchand deflection), the Sabres returned to their status as hockey’s great equalizer, and the Bruins won their second straight behind a 3-2 final on Boston ice.
Tied up at 1-1 through 20 minutes of play, the Bruins jumped out front behind a Marchand power-play goal at the 14:45 mark of the second period. Created off a broken clear swiped by Matt Grzelcyk, the pinball sequence culminated for a puck off Ullmark and into the Buffalo cage for Marchand’s second goal of the evening, and 15th of the 2019-20 season.
Back on the power play in the third period, the Black and Gold extended their lead to two behind David Pastrnak’s putaway, good for his 20th goal of the season, scored just 1:56 into the third frame. The strike made Pastrnak just the fourth different skater in franchise history to score at least 20 goals through the first 22 games of a season, joining a list featuring Herb Cain, Phil Esposito, and Cam Neely. (Pastrnak, for what it’s worth, did not hit the 20-goal mark until the 28th game of 2018-19.)
But the night was not complete without an absolutely absurd save from Tuukka Rask with the B’s protecting their lead in the third period, as No. 40 came through with a stop without his stick — and with his blocker hand — to deny Evan Rodrigues.
And though the Sabres made it close with a Brandon Montour goal with 7:02 remaining the period, Rask and the Bruins buckled down and secured the win behind some key blocks and a couple more big stops, giving Rask a 36-save win.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron returned to the Boston lineup after missing the previous two games with a lower-body injury.
Winger Brett Ritchie, meanwhile, was scratched from the lineup due to a flare-up with the infection that’s kept him out of action in five of the last six contests. With Ritchie out and Bergeron back, Par Lindholm remained in the B’s lineup and had an injury scare of his own in the first period, but ultimately returned to action by the night’s end.
The Bruins will welcome the Wild to town on Saturday night.