BOSTON (AP)—Chuck Kobasew could only smile when asked about his game-winning goal.
Tim Thomas made 45 saves and Kobasew scored the tiebreaking goal by batting a puck out of the air to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night in a matchup of struggling offensive teams.
“I practice that everyday,” he said, breaking into a grin. “It’s one of those things where you get lucky once in a while.”
But lucky certainly doesn’t describe the play of Thomas lately.
“It seems like we’re saying the same thing every night,” Kobasew said of Thomas. “He’s kept us in every game. We came into the third period with a 1-0 lead and that was because of him.”
The Bruins, held to two goals or fewer in eight of their last 10 games, snapped a four-game losing streak. Marco Sturm scored Boston’s other goal. Each of the Bruins’ last seven games have been decided by one goal.
“We gave up 46 shots and our goaltender was very good,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “We’re just not giving up many goals. We’ve got to find that balance between defensive hockey and offensive hockey.”
The Sabres are looking at things positively after dominating the Bruins.
“If we play like that someday it will go in,” winger Maxim Afinogenov said. “We pressured a lot and got a lot of shots and we got good chances to put the puck in.”
Paille one-timed a shot past Thomas from the bottom of the right circle to tie it 8:13 into the third. About half a minute later, Bruins’ defenseman Dennis Wideman fired a shot from the point that bounced into the air off Miller. Kobasew, positioned at the left of the crease, turned his stick and batted the puck—about a foot and a half off the ice—into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
“I bent down to the right to keep sight of the puck,” Thomas said of the tying score. “I didn’t know someone was over there. It cost us for about 30 seconds.”
With Buffalo skating with a man advantage in the second period, the Sabres were whistled for having too many men on the ice. Thirty-seven seconds later, Sturm stole the puck off the stick of Afinogenov at the Bruins’ blue line and started a 2-on-1 break with Marc Savard, who set up Sturm with a perfect cross-ice pass that the winger redirected behind Miller.
Thomas, possibly frustrated at both his team’s lack of offensive production of late and the Sabres’ forwards crashing the net early into the game, took a roughing penalty 3:06 into the first.
Buffalo outshot Boston 15-6 in the opening period, prompting a few boos from the crowd when the players left the ice. It got worse in the second when the Sabres owned a 17-7 shot advantage. Buffalo winger Jason Pominville had 9 of the shots in the first two periods.
“We’ve got to bite the bullet and we’ve got to be disappointed with not winning,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Boston, down three defenseman already after recent injuries, had a bit of a scare early in the game when Wideman crashed into the boards and appeared to injury his left side. He was helped up, went to the dressing room and returned about four minutes later. … In three of the Sabres’ six wins this season, they didn’t lead until the final horn. … The Bruins placed G Manny Fernandez (knee strain) and forward Shawn Thornton (broken bone left foot) on IR Friday. … It was the second meeting between the teams this week. Buffalo, which outshot its opponent for the sixth straight game on Saturday, won 2-1 at home Wednesday.