BOSTON– On Saturday afternoon in Boston, the Bruins and Sabres played in a hockey game with less meaning than Spring Training baseball action in the sunny state of Florida. With the B’s already locked into the Eastern Conference’s number two seed, and the Sabres left to plan spring tee times, it was an exhibition contest on Causeway street as the Bruins hosted their annual “Fan Appreciation Night”. Fortunately for the 17, 565 Black and Gold supporters that packed into the TD Garden for the 125th consecutive game, the B’s pulled through with a 4-3 shootout win after some late-game heroics.
After a quiet first period, that saw neither team find the score sheet and the only action coming via some mid-period fisticuffs from Shawn Thornton and Robyn Regehr, the two squads went into the rooms in a zero-zero tie. It was at the 3:15 mark of the second period that Patrice Bergeron would find a wide open Tyler Seguin streaking towards goal for his team-leading 28th tally of the campaign.
“Look at my lineys (linemates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand), they’re easy to play with and I think if you look at some of my goals tonight, they set most of them up. Very fortunate to play with them and capitalize.” — Tyler Seguin
Late in the frame, the Sabres would draw even on former Bruins’ draft choice Brad Boyes‘ seventh tally of the season. The score would remain tied at one until the mid-point of the third and final frame when Boyes would collect his second goal of the night and eighth of the season. A mere 1:44 later, Buffalo would add to their lead when Jason Pominville corralled a lose puck out of a net-mouth scramble to give the Sabres a 3-1 advantage.
Boston would answer back seventy seconds later when Seguin blasted a slapshot past Sabres’ netminder Jhonas Enroth whilst on the power-play to cut the deficit to one. Saturday’s two-goal performance gives Seguin a total of 67 points (29G/38A) on the season, as he sets the record for being the youngest Boston Bruin in history to lead his team in scoring.
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s definitely an honor. Obviously again, like I was saying before my linemates make the game a lot easier for me.” — Tyler Seguin
With just under eight minutes to play in regulation, the B’s would even the score at three after Brad Marchand sent a backhand roof-job over the glove of Enroth for his 28th of the season.
After playing through a scoreless final seven minutes and through the five-minute overtime, the two squads would be forced to settle it in the shootout. It would be Patrice Bergeron — who enjoyed a three-point night of his own — that would score the only goal of the NHL’s skills competition, securing a 4-3 home-ice victory for the B’s.
– Despite Saturday’s game not holding any tangible value when it comes to playoff positioning, the Boston Bruins third period effort was truly something to be applauded. In a game with nothing but personal pride on the line, and facing a two-goal deficit with less than ten minutes to play, it would have been easy for any team to “mail it in” so to speak. That didn’t happen at TD Garden on Saturday. The B’s fought and clawed their way back into the game, and eventually took home the two points. A victory like that –no matter the stakes — truly says a lot about a team’s character and resiliency and bodes well for a team poised to defend it’s Stanley Cup Championship.
“We wanted to finish on a good note. We had a tough start, digging out by a couple goals, but we showed the character that we need going into the playoffs. We battled back, and that’s what you have to do if you want to win games. We’re proud of what we accomplished tonight.” – Brad Marchand
“That’s just it. I think we weren’t just willing to just throw in the towel and say, ‘OK, it’s a nothing game. They’ve got a two-goal lead, let’s just finish this game.’ But our guys, after they scored that second goal, there was some life on the bench, some of that bitterness that we got accustomed to hearing, and guys talking about it not being good enough. We had to get ourselves back in this game, and we responded with two big goals and found a way to win in the shootout.” — Claude Julien
Ben’s Three Stars:
2) Tyler Seguin (2 Goals/Plus-2 Rating)
3) Jhonas Enroth (38 Saves)
– After completing the 82-game regular season slate, the Black and Gold will now kick off their Stanley Cup defense on Thursday evening, right back here at the TD Garden against the . The Sabres will return home to Buffalo for a locker clean out after missing the post-season for the first time since 2008-2009.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.