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After snow-out, rested Bruins slip past Sabres

The SportsXchange

BUFFALO -- Not even a blizzard could stop the Boston Bruins' red-hot start.

After an unexpected day off, the Bruins picked up right where they left off with a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night at the First Niagara Center. Boston's scheduled Saturday home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning was postponed due to a blizzard in the Northeast.

"Certainly we had a different day yesterday, but at least we made it here, and no doubt we were a well-rested team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

At 8-1-1, the Bruins are off to their best start in franchise history with 17 points through the first 10 games of the season. They sit atop the Northeast Division and are two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with two games in hand.

"It is (meaningful), especially in our situation where the front part of our schedule is extremely light compared to the back end of it," Julien said of his team's early success. "I think it's important to get off to a good start here the way the schedule is made. We're going to be behind in games played by the end of this month, so it's important to stay at least in the playoff pack, and that's what we're trying to do right now."

Patrice Bergeron scored the winning goal with 12:08 remaining. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic also scored for Boston. Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin, who received his second start of the season, was solid between the pipes, making 25 saves.

Even though the Bruins dominated the flow of play throughout the game, they received some luck on the game-winning goal. Bergeron's tiebreaker came on Boston's fifth power play. After Chris Bourque's shot from the point went wide, the puck found its way to Bergeron inside the left circle.

"That's the way it is sometimes," Bergeron said. "You've got to stay positive and find ways. ... We've had some bad bounces going the other way, but today we'll take that key break because it's karma. At some point you get one."

Ryan Miller stole a win for the Sabres on Saturday night against the New York Islanders, and he kept Buffalo close against the Bruins. The goalie was sensational in defeat, finishing with 36 saves. Tyler Ennis scored the lone goal for the Buffalo (5-7-1).

Even with the return of veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr, the Sabres continue to struggle defensively. The Bruins outshot Buffalo 39-26, and they were given several golden opportunities due to mistakes on the back end by Buffalo.

"A couple of those plays, yeah, I shake my head. We made some tough decisions," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "You've got to take better care of the puck."

Said Sabres captain Jason Pominville: "It doesn't matter how many goals you score or how many chances you create, I think it's about not giving up opportunities first. ... We're spending way too much time in our zone. We're running around. Tonight was a good example of it."

Boston got on the board 7:10 into the second period on Marchand's wrist shot from inside the left circle. Nathan Horton acted as a screen in front of the goalie on the play.

Ennis tied the game at 1-1 with 1:59 remaining in the second period on a pretty feed from Drew Stafford. Stafford, stationed along the right boards, rifled a pass to Ennis, who was all alone in front of the net. Ennis deked to his forehand and put the puck in the open net with Khudobin down and out.

Lucic's empty-net goal with 49 seconds to play sealed the outcome.

Boston successfully killed off all three Buffalo power plays, while the Bruins converted only on their fifth and final try with the man-advantage. Mike Weber was serving a penalty for delay of game when Bergeron broke the third-period tie.

"I think character's been key so far," Bergeron said of Boston's winning ways. "We haven't had our best games every time, and we've found ways to battle back and get back in the game and get the lead. ...

"At the same time, we can't be satisfied. ... We know it's a short season. Every game's really important."

NOTES: Regehr returned to the lineup after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. ... Tyler Myers, T.J. Brennan and first-round pick Mikhail Grigorenko were scratched for the Sabres. It was Grigorenko's first time as a healthy scratch. ... Aaron Johnson, Lane MacDermid and Jamie Tardif were scratched for the Bruins. ... This was the second of five meetings between the two teams this season. Buffalo won the first meeting 7-4 on Jan. 31 in Boston. ... The Sabres lead the teams' all-time series 115-110-40.
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