The Sabres' woes continued at the hands of bitter rival Boston, who edged them in a shootout prevailing 3-2 at HSBC Arena tonight. David Krejci snapped a 1-1 tie in Round Four to give the B's their second consecutive win, tying the idle Flyers in points (61). However, they remained in ninth due to one more game played. Not bad considering Claude Julien's club had just ended a 10-game losing streak the other day.
Boston got superb goaltending for a second game in a row from rookie Tuukka Rask, who finished with a career high 43 saves and turned aside three of four Sabre shooters. Perhaps he's finally supplanted last year's Vezina winner Tim Thomas, who's been up and down all season. The 22 year-old Finn who posted a shutout to get his first win since 12/30/09- bested Ryan Miller (32 saves), who did all he could to allow his team to rally from a two-goal deficit. He allowed a pair of first period goals to former Sabre Daniel Paille, who played a big role in beating his former 'mates. Paille scored on a wraparound 4:51 in from Marc Savard and another ex-Sabre Miro Satan. Just over seven minutes later, he burned Buffalo again by neatly deflecting home booing target Zdeno Chara's left point shot for his ninth. Derek Morris added a secondary helper.
Despite outshooting Boston 17-11 in the first, Buffalo trailed 2-zip. That didn't deter them from coming out with a strong second to get the game tied. The Sabres took eight of the first nine shots, forcing Rask to come up with some tough saves. They couldn't beat him until a two-man advantage, which Derek Roy cashed in for his 13th at 4:35 to cut it to 2-1. After some sloppy passing, a nice pass play was started by Tim Connolly, who dished across for Jason Pominville who quickly fed Roy in the slot for a blast that went top shelf. It came following a scrap between Craig Rivet and Milan Lucic with the Bruin antagonist getting an extra two for a hook. A Steve Begin hold less than a minute later allowed Buffalo the opportunity to get back in it which they did on Roy's sixth PPG.
With the Sabres upping the ante, it got heated when Paul Gaustad's challenge was turned down by Chara, earning the Goose an unsportsmanlike minor. The fact the towering Boston captain backed down was yet another example of why the instigator needs to go. He certainly can throw 'em but opted to say no, earning a power play which Buffalo killed off. Rookie Tyler Myers tied it with 75 seconds left bringing the crowd to their feet by taking a Gaustad feed and beating Rask with a wrister for his eighth. He'd later leave the game late in regulation following a blocked shot taken to the neck but skated off on his own.
Though they outshot the B's 12-8 in a very exciting third that saw both teams go for it, Boston had the better chances but couldn't beat Miller who wasn't allowing anymore at least during the hockey portion. However, Rask was every bit as good forcing it to overtime where both netminders made great stops. On the first shift, Miller slid across to his right to deny a two-on-one. But Rask cameback with two tough stops through traffic including a rebound he got with his goalstick. The Bruins couldn't cash in on a 4-on-3 power play drawn by Michael Ryder with Miller turning away Dennis Wideman twice and the Buffalo PK doing the rest. Before time expired, Wideman sent one more shot on Miller which he repelled taking it to the shootout.
In Round One, Pominville (five-hole) and Marco Sturm (forehand deke shortside) traded goals. Nobody scored in the next two frames sending it to extras where Rask stoned Drew Stafford setting the stage for Krejci to be the hero. He obliged by beating Miller with a quick snapper handing Buffalo a fifth straight defeat. With the point, the Sabres remained atop the Northeast due to two fewer games played than Ottawa, who cameback from two to post a 3-2 home win over Calgary. Both clubs have 72 points.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Daniel Paille, Bos (2 goals versus former team)
2nd Star-Ryan Miller, Buf (32 saves)
1st Star-Tuukka Rask, Bos (career high 43 saves, stopped 3 of 4 shooters for 2nd win in row)