By BILL HOPPE, Associated Press Writer
December 19, 2002
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Things have gotten so bad for the Boston Bruins, now they can't even beat one of the worst teams in the NHL.
Chris Gratton scored his first goal in nearly a month and added three assists as the Buffalo Sabres beat the Bruins 4-2 Wednesday night, sending Boston to its fourth straight loss.
``Personally, I don't think we're working hard enough,'' Bruins forward Joe Thornton said. ``We just weren't desperate enough. If (goalie Steve Shields) didn't play as well as he did, the game could have gotten out of hand.''
The Bruins have been outscored 17-6 during their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 28 to March 6 last season.
``We're not playing our game right now,'' Bruins forward Brian Rolston said. ``It's very simple -- we're giving up 2-on-1, 2-on-0s, things we don't do normally. You just try to work as hard as you can to get out of it, that's the bottom line.''
``We're just letting up,'' Thornton added. ``That's not Bruins hockey. We have to go out there from the first period on and dictate the way the game is played.''
While Rolston said any team can lose on a given night, he acknowledged that the Bruins, who began with a league-leading 19 wins, are not supposed to lose to Buffalo, a team that managed only its eighth victory of the season.
Mike Knuble and Sergei Samsonov, back after missing four games with a groin injury, scored for Boston.
J.P. Dumont, Taylor Pyatt and Stu Barnes also scored for Buffalo, which snapped a three-game winless skid (0-2-1). Gratton matched his career high for points in a game, set in 1995 when he was with Tampa Bay.
Buffalo's Martin Biron, making his 11th straight start, had 27 saves. Shields stopped 21 shots for the Bruins.
Dumont's power-play goal at 9:01 of the second period proved to be the winner, giving the Sabres a 3-1 lead. Gratton set up the goal when he shoveled a pass to Dumont, who one-timed the puck into the open right side of the net.
``We played a real aggressive game,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ``We came with a game plan that we were going to pour it on, we were going to pinch. We worked on transition. We had two or three breakaways tonight, we had two or three 2-on-1s. That's the transition we've been trying to help create and I think it paid off.''
``It was nice,'' Gratton said. ``Everyone's been struggling of late. It's nice to chip in offensively. When the puck goes in it allows you to gain confidence.''
Boston also allowed two power-play goals for only the fourth time thisseason.
Dumont returned to the lineup after missing Friday's and Saturday's games with the flu. ... Sabres D Alexei Zhitnik returned to the lineup after missing 10 straight games with a broken bone in his right foot. ... Boston scratched F Michal Grosek (strained oblique muscle) and F P.J. Axelsson(strained back).
Updated on Thursday, Dec 19, 2002 5:07 am, EST
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