Daniel Briere scored to snap Buffalo’s 0-for-27 slump on the power play, and J.P. Dumont added another to break a third-period tie on Thursday and lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins.
“It’s the one area we’ve really been working on,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We did a much better job tonight, and we needed it to win the game.”
Ryan Miller stopped 29 shots for the Sabres, and Ales Kotalik scored with 6:12 left to make it 4-2. Boston pulled within one just 25 seconds later on Sergei Samsonov’s second goal of the game, but the Bruins failed to mount a threat even after pulling goalie Hannu Toivonen in the final minute.
Toivonen made 33 saves for the Bruins, and captain Joe Thornton returned after three games with a strained back.
“I think if we just stay out of the penalty box, we have a good team five-on-five,” said Thornton, who took six shots—five in the first period— and played 22:17. “I felt comfortable. It was just nice to be on the ice with the boys again.”
The Bruins played just their second home game after returning from a six-game road trip. They held an extra “Fan Appreciation Night” to reward supporters who stayed with the team despite the lockout that canceled all of last season.
In a ceremony usually held at the last home game of the season, the players gave their game sweaters to fans. Another fan won a car; the rest of the crowd had to settle for a sign that said, “Thank You Fans!” painted on the ice in bold blue letters.
But Bruins fans didn’t get what they were hoping for—a win. Boston has lost both home games this season and is 0-5 in the Northeast Division.
“The third period, we spent a lot of time in the penalty box,” Samsonov said.
Dumont also had an assist, and Kotalik and Tim Connolly had a goal and an assist apiece for the Sabres. Daniel Briere scored his fifth goal of the season — his fourth in the past three games—on a first-period power play just as a 5-on-3 was turning into a one-man advantage. The Sabres had failed to score on 25 power-play chances coming into the game and their first two tries on Thursday.
“That bolstered our confidence,” Connolly said. “Then to score one (in the third) and hold the lead on the road was nice.”
Boston has allowed six power-play goals in three games.
Briere made it 1-0 5:05 in, but Samsonov slapped in a rebound to tie it for the Bruins just 10 seconds into a power play of their own. Kevin Dallman got an assist—his first NHL point—and Thornton also assisted on the goal.
P.J. Axelsson gave Boston a 2-1 lead 42 seconds into the second period when he beat Miller on a nice crossing pass from Hal Gill. Connolly tied it after some sharp passing left him alone on the left side of the net with 6:41 to play in the second.
D Brian Leetch was on the ice for six consecutive goals scored against Boston. … Bruins forward Shawn McEachern missed the game with back spasms. … Buffalo has split four road games this season, including a 3-2 loss to Florida on Saturday night. “Our goal this year was not to lose two in a row on the road,” Connolly said.