Saturday night’s back end of the home and home between the Boston Bruins and the Buffalo Sabres saw the Bruins get on the scoreboard first at 12:22 of the first period followed by the Sabres tying it up at 10:53 of the second period. However, it was really the goalies’ game, as both backstops denied chance after chance and forced the game to overtime.
On paper the game looks a lot more even handed then it really was. In the first period the Bruins outshot the Sabres 13-10, however, what the final sheet doesn’t say is that it took Boston more than six minutes of that period to get their first shot on goal. And there were a number of instances in the game where the Sabres were in full control of the puck and forcing the Bruins to scramble around. If it hadn’t been for Tuukka Rask between the pipes, it could have been a different game. Of course, the same could be said of those shifts where the Bruins were in complete control—Robin Lehner outright robbed the Boston a couple of times to keep his team within reach of the win.
“Yeah I know I felt good. It was one of the really fun games to play, you know? It’s a battle between two good teams,” Lehner shared with media. “We showed we can be up there and compete against a real good team like Boston.”
In the end, like the game two days prior in Buffalo, this one would not be settled in the 60 minutes of regulation. They would have to take it to overtime. Unlike the game on Thursday, they would not have to take it to a shootout, but it would be a penalty shot, awarded to Brad Marchand, that would decide the victor, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those who lost.
“You know, it’s disappointing. I don’t know what to say. Honestly I’m not even disappointed that we lost, I’m disappointed…,” Lehner struggled in sharing his thoughts on the penalty shot. “I mean like both of those refs are good refs, don’t get me wrong, but that was, oh my God, I don’t know what to say man. That’s just embarrassing. I hope he’s embarrassed. I am embarrassed – it shouldn’t end like that.”
The Sabres questioned the call that allowed Marchand the penalty shot, in light of an earlier instance when Dennis Seidenberg took out Jamie McGinn and the Sabres only got a power play. Inconsistencies in calls are certainly a sour pill to swallow, though with the speed of the game and all that the referees must process during each shift, the necessary lightning fast decisions can be difficult to truly comprehend.
Likewise, being awarded a penalty shot does not guarantee a goal. In fact when talking with media after the game, Marchand was quick to point out that his shots don’t always work.
“When you’re feeling good and you’re confident you seem to bear down a little bit more in situations like that, you know,” Marchand shared. “But I mean, I missed a penalty shot, a very similar play – or a shootout goal last game. So it was nice this one went in.”
As the season continues to get closer and closer to the end, every point is critical. These two points were important to the Bruins both in regard to their standings, but also to their confidence. They have struggled quite a bit on home ice this season, and as such, every win—regardless of how ugly it is—is a requisite to building their confidence.
This was not the Bruins best game. It was one of the few instances when Patrice Bergeron was only 50% in faceoffs. They couldn’t capitalize on the power play. Despite the 38 shots on goal apiece, there were periods when the Sabres had them hemmed in their defensive zone. However, positives can be drawn from these situations. Earlier in the season similar statistics would have resulted in the Bruins not being able to carry the game to overtime, especially on home ice. And, while the Sabres generated 38 shots on goal, the Bruins were able to limit the chances of rookie phenom, and Boston hero, Jack Eichel, to just two of those shots.
Victories must be taken where they can be found. The two points were huge for the Bruins, but perhaps some of the other areas of their play speak to a growth that, while slow this season, is taking place.
Postgame interviews in Bruins locker room: