Sabres 4, Bruins 3
Now that the six-game skid is over with Buffalo’s 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, Briere can reflect back on how the adversity might have made the team stronger.
“Having such a long losing streak, it made us take a look at everything and make sure we made the adjustments,” Briere said. “Hopefully, we realize that. I really meant it when I said, `This is going to make us a better team.”’
The Sabres are finally back on track putting aside a season-worst 0-5-1 skid that included squandering a two-goal, third-period lead in a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.
Buffalo twice squandered one-goal leads against the Bruins but showed perseverance in rallying back each time.
Briere set up three goals, including J.P. Dumont’s winner that broke a 3-3 tie midway through the third period. Dumont scored twice, Chris Drury had a goal and assist and Maxim Afinogenov also scored for the Sabres.
Ryan Miller stopped 24 shots in helping Buffalo (45-21-6) inch within three points of clinching the franchise’s first playoff berth in five years.
Not all the news was good for Buffalo, which lost veteran defenseman Teppo Numminen, who will miss between 10 and 14 days with a sprained knee. Numminen missed the third period, but coach Lindy Ruff said it’s unclear when his defenseman was hurt.
Marty Reasoner and David Tanabe had a goal and assist each, and Brad Stuart also scored for the Bruins (28-33-13), who have gone 0-6-1 in their last seven road games, one loss short of matching a season low.
Boston is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001 and can blame its troubles on failing to win close games.
“We seem to have a lot of one-goal games and unfortunately we end up on the wrong side of them,” defenseman Nick Boynton said, whose Bruins dropped to 13-27 in games decided by one goal. “We’re right there but we have to be a little bit better.”
Reasoner gave the Bruins life, tying the game at 3, when he deflected in Brad Isbister’s centering pass with 10:12 left in the third.
The Sabres responded with Dumont’s goal scored 52 seconds later.
With Boston’s Brad Boyes off for hooking, the Sabres filtered the puck to Briere, who had room to the left of the Bruins’ net. Briere fed the puck through the crease—and beneath diving defender Mark Stuart—across to Dumont, who one-timed it in behind goaltender Tim Thomas.
The Bruins mustered just three shots in the third period, and none after Dumont’s goal.
The Sabres credited the turning point as coming in the final minutes of the second period when a Bruins goal was overturned by a video review. Referee Paul Devorski initially ruled Tanabe had scored with a point shot, but replays showed the puck clearly hitting the post.
“Nobody panicked,” Dumont said. “Sometimes when things go bad, something like that could put everybody down on the bench. But we had some guys standing up, saying, `We’ll get it back.”’
Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said Leetch will be re-evaluated after the team returns to Boston. … Bruins D Milan Jurcina returned after missing 10 games with a shoulder injury. … The Sabres were undeterred by their slump, announcing first-round playoff tickets will go on sale April 10. The most expensive ones will sell for $120, matching the team’s highest-priced tickets during the regular season.