Bruins Falter In 7-4 Loss To Sabres
Claude Julien said it right after the game–the team was “defensively brain dead.” After building a 3-1 lead in the second period, the Bruins slowly lost momentum and quickly handed it over to the hungry and waiting Buffalo Sabres to take a 7-4 loss in Boston.
And you don’t ever hand anything over to Thomas Vanek.
A notoriously proclaimed “Bruins killer,” Vanek had five points in Thursday night’s game, including a hat trick and two more assists to add to his overall absurd totals against the Boston organization. With his most recent efforts, he now boasts 54 points in 46 career games against the Bruins.
His first goal–also the first goal of the game– came just 1:38 into the second period. His one-timer was executed perfectly, and the B’s once again felt the sting of his offensive prowess. However, Boston was able to come back with a goal just four minutes later, as Rich Peverley and the struggling third line came out and produced the tying goal.
Sparking the first excitement the fans had all night, Brad Marchand drew from that energy and followed Peverley’s goals with two of his own for his fourth and fifth goals of the season.
His first goal wowed the crowd as he dangled his way into the zone, through the defense and across the crease to beat Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in impressive fashion. And just three minutes later, a screen from linemate Tyler Seguin was enough to shield Miller’s view and Marchand shot it through to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead halfway through the second.
“We really gained a lot of momentum off [Peverley’s] goal, he did a great job at getting a score, and we just need to continue to feed off of it,” Marchand said. “We were playing pretty good, up until we got in some penalty trouble, and after that we just couldn’t get it back.”
However, that lead didn’t last long, in large part to that brain dead defense.
The momentum quickly shifted after Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and forward Milan Lucic were called simultaneously for minor penalties–Chara for holding, Lucic for boarding. That put the Sabres on a 5-on-3 power play for two full minutes.
Vanek just needed one minute to wreak havoc.
With Chara in the sin bin, Vanek and Christian Ehrhoff were able to enter into the zone. Ehrhoff took the shot, and Vanek redirected it past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask to put Buffalo within a goal, and plenty of hockey left to play.
Down just one man, the Bruins tried to rebound, but couldn’t before Tyler Ennis added to the Sabres goals, tying the game just 1:10 later.
“[Vanek’s] a natural goal-scorer,” Rask said. “I think he’s got a great shot. If he gets those one-timers, you just try to throw yourself out there and hope it hits you. Especially if it’s a wide pass like that one was. And then he gets a 2-on-1, dangles for 10 seconds there, I started swimming, and he roofs it. He scores goals if he gets those chances. ”
Teams went into the third period tied 3-3, and once again the Bruins were able to start the momentum, courtesy of David Krejci who roofed it over Miller to give the B’s a temporary 4-3 lead.
More defensive errors lead to 4 more unanswered Buffalo goals, including the third goal of Vanek’s hat trick, to hand the Bruins their first regulation loss of the season.
“Defensively, I don’t think I remember the last time we were this bad,” Julien said. “The breakdowns and mistakes we made and the opportunities – when you give [Thomas] Vanek those kind of opportunities, he’s going to make the most of it. So, I don’t think we were extremely good on defense and that’s what cost us the game tonight.””
With the loss, the Bruins also suffered a number of injuries throughout the game. Players were moving through the tunnel and back to the locker room more often than not, and two of those players didn’t return for the rest of the game.
The first was Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who fought Sabres tough guy John Scott in the first period. Thornton received a number of shots to the head and after serving his five minutes in the penalty box, immediately went to the locker room and didn’t come back. Bruins head coach Claude Julien didn’t know the extent of what happened, but said he will be evaluated and will know by Friday.
Bruins forward Daniel Paille also left the game in the third period after a high stick hit him in the face. Julien also said they should know more about him after an evaluation.
“I didn’t expect this type of game because it wasn’t our type of game,” Julien said. “When you look at the way we played, the sloppiness of guys left by themselves around our net, the puck watching all over the place. It was really a disappointing, I guess, loss in a way, where our guys defensively were just totally, totally out of it.”