The third game in four nights in Buffalo proved to be a bit too much for the Bruins, as Bruce Cassidy’s squad failed to pull off the Buffalo sweep Friday night, as a 6-4 loss to the Sabres snapped the team’s six-game winning streak.
“We didn’t have our best early on,” Cassidy, whose team surrendered five unanswered goals in the middle of the losing effort, admitted. “We kind of took ourselves out of the game [in the second period], so some of that is on us. And some of it is give [the Sabres] credit, they were a hungry team. They shot more tonight, and they were willing to block more shots.”
Despite not having their best early on, the Bruins kicked things off with another game-opening tally on Buffalo ice, this time behind a Steven Kampfer strike at the 2:15 mark of the first period.
But a Sam Reinhart power-play tally at the 15:40 mark knotted things up at 1-1 through 20 minutes, and second-period tallies from Rasmus Darlin and Casey Mittelstadt put the Sabres up by two through two periods of action.
Then an Arttu Ruotsalainen goal ended Tuukka Rask’s night after a 24-of-28 effort, and Reinhart’s second of the evening, almost completely off a self-inflicted wound, put the Sabres up by four with 15:30 remaining in regulation.
Boston refused to go down without a fight, however, with goals from Nick Ritchie, Kevan Miller, and then Taylor Hall all in a 5:06 stretch to bring the Bruins within one with just 2:48 remaining in regulation.
The Bruins continued to press on the Sabres’ Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, too, but a brutal turnover over a botched shot attempt from David Pastrnak with the net empty gave Reinhart the opening needed for an empty-net dagger.
Pastrnak was far from the only Bruin who whiffed on a chance in this one, as the Bruins had a noticeably difficult time doing much of anything in the offensive zone, defensive zone, and neutral zone for that matter.
“I think some guys have been fighting it for a while,” said Cassidy. “Other guys could have fallen into that category. We lost some puck battles tonight and our breakout, at times, looked very good and other times [had] self-inflicted [issues].”
Rask’s early exit paved the way for Jaroslav Halak’s first appearance since Apr. 3. Out of action due to COVID protocols, Halak stopped four of five shots in 17:19 of relief work for the 34-year-old Rask.
Kampfer, meanwhile, finished with a career-best three-point effort.
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was a late scratch from this contest due to a lower-body injury suffered in Thursday’s 5-1 win. The Bruins have dubbed Bergeron day-to-day for now.
The Bruins will have Saturday off before a Sunday afternoon tilt with the Penguins in Pittsburgh.