Bruins shut out skidding Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The floodgates opened for the Boston Bruins in a blowout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. On Tuesday, the Bruins got back to what they do best.
Anton Khudobin made 36 saves to lead the Bruins to a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. It was a defensive-minded win in Boston’s second game in back-to-back nights. Boston held a 1-0 lead for much of the game before scoring two late empty-net goals.
“It wasn’t pretty by any means but it was kind of the road game we need to play on a night, back-to-back, with a fresh team that’s been sitting here,” Bruins right winger David Backes said. “We’ll take the two points and enjoy the ride home.”
Jake DeBrusk, Tim Schaller and Backes scored for Boston (17-10-5).
It was Khudobin’s first shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. The backup goaltender had several impressive saves throughout the evening.
“That was good,” Khudobin said. “I’m glad I didn’t get scored on.”
Khudobin came up big midway through the second period with a left pad save on Sabres leading scorer Evander Kane. The Bruins scored on the ensuing rush on the other end.
Khudobin also stopped Kane from close range with a chest save eight minutes into the third period.
“He’s athletic,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “And tonight he seemed square, in control, not a lot bothering him, not a lot going on around him in terms of him not overplaying situations. You know he’s in a good place when that happens and he deserved it. He was full value for us.”
DeBrusk opened the scoring midway through the second period on an exceptional one-man effort. DeBrusk picked the puck up at center ice, skated around Sabres winger Jason Pominville and ripped a wrist shot into the top of the net from the right circle for his eighth goal of the season.
Schaller added an empty-net goal with 1:51 remaining, banking a shot off the boards from deep in his own end. Backes added another empty-netter with 30.2 seconds remaining.
Robin Lehner made 30 saves for Buffalo (8-19-7). The Sabres have lost three games in a row and five of their past six games (1-2-3). Buffalo has only three wins going back to Nov. 10 (3-11-5).
“The disappointing thing for me right now is every time we sort of trend in a right direction ... we get away from the things we did well,” Sabres coach Phil Housley said. “In the first period, you saw the execution was there, the decisions were there, the simple game was there. OK, we didn’t score, but it’s not a time now going into the second period where you change. You’ve got to stick to the game plan and eventually you’ll break through. It just seems that sometimes we’re taking things into our own hands and it just keeps coming back at us.”
Buffalo’s best chance to get on the scoreboard came late in the second period. With 1:31 remaining, Kyle Okposo and Benoit Pouliot came close on a two-on-one, but Pouliot’s late shot fell wide. Seconds later Pouliot missed an open net from the left circle.
“It’s unfortunate because (Lehner) played an excellent game, kept us in the game the whole time,” Pouliot said. “For us to pay him back we’ve got to put some pucks in the net.”
Things got chippy five minutes into the game after a hard hit by Boston’s Kevan Miller on Sabres center Jacob Josefson. Because Josefson recently returned from an ankle injury, Miller was immediately challenged by Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian to a fight. Miller had the upper hand in the skirmish.
“Just a reaction to the hit and I obliged,” Miller said. “Whenever something like that happens it wakes the guys up, kind of gets them going.”
NOTES: D Josh Gorges, C Scott Wilson and D Justin Falk were scratched for the Sabres. ... D Paul Postma, C David Krejci and C Frank Vatrano were scratched for the Bruins. Krejci missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the season, he missed 11 games with a back injury. ... This was the second of four meetings between the teams this season. The next meeting takes place Feb. 10 in Boston. ... Bruins C Tim Schaller spent two seasons with the Sabres, playing for Buffalo and the AHL’s Rochester Americans. He played in 35 games for Buffalo, recording two goals and three assists.