Role Reversal: Third Period Collapse Dooms Bruins in 4-2 Loss to Sabres

On the quest to secure points in five consecutive games, the Boston Bruins met the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center in a Friday night Northeast division showdown. However, in a massive role reversal, the Bruins were beaten at their own game by three third period goals from the Sabres. Entering Friday’s action as the league’s best third period team, the Bruins looked to be in good shape after taking a 2-1 lead into the final frame. However, third period tallies from Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Hodgson would lift the Sabres to a crucial 4-2 victory over Boston. 

The home team would get on the board first when under-sized pivot Tyler Ennis capitalized on an Andrew Ference turnover behind the Boston net and sent a beautiful pass in front to linemate Drew Stafford. The longtime Bruins-killer would make no mistake, firing the puck past goaltender Anton Khudobin, giving Buffalo an early 1-0 lead.

Late in the opening period, Boston would earn their first power-play opportunity of the night after a solid two minutes of pressure in the Buffalo zone. With the man-advantage, some skillful passing would cause havoc for the Sabres’ penalty-killers and allow rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton to score his first career NHL goal. It’s okay to get excited, Bruins’ fans, Friday’s tally was only the first of many for the budding young superstar.

Less than two-and-a-half minutes into the second period, the Bruins would strike with their second goal of the night when Dougie Hamilton skillfully played the puck off the end wall and it deflected in front to Rich Peverley for an easy tap-in. Despite consistent pressure by the Bruins’ offense, the Sabres were able to keep it a 2-1 game through two periods of play thanks to an extraordinary effort from goaltender Ryan Miller.

Just two minutes into the third period, the Sabres would draw even on Tyler Myers’ second goal of the season, after he corralled a rebound and backhanded it into an open goal to even the score at two. Midway through the period, Buffalo would take the lead for the second time of the night after Christian Ehrhoff’s wrist shot made its way past Khudobin’s blocker and into the Boston net.

The nail in the coffin for the Bruins would come less than three minutes after Ehrhoff’s go-ahead goal. Out of a mad scramble behind the Boston net, former Vancouver Canuck center Cody Hodgson would just throw the puck towards goal from beside the left post. Unfortunately for Boston, Khudobin had failed to correctly hug the post, allowing the puck to slip past and give the Sabres a 4-2 lead. Buffalo was able to hold onto that advantage with ease as the Bruins could only muster three shots on goal during the game’s final period.

Friday’s result is a complete one-eighty from what the Bruins have been so far this season. Prior to the game against Buffalo, the B’s were undefeated in regulation when TRAILING after two periods of play. The Buffalo Sabres, a club I’d sure consider to be the Bruins’ biggest current rival, remain the only team to have beaten Boston in regulation, so far this season.

Stat of the Night: -9: That number represents the combined plus/minus rating of the Bruins’ number-one offensive line (Nathan Horton-David Krejci-Milan Lucic) and top defense pair (Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara). Boston’s top unit made far too many costly turnovers on Friday, often resulting in goals for the Sabres. If the Bruins hope to get things back on track this Sunday against the Jets, they’ll need a much more complete effort from their top line.

Ben’s Three Stars: 

1)  Dougie Hamilton (1 Goal/1 Assist)

2) Tyler Myers (1 Goal/1 Assist)

3) Ryan Miller (30 Saves)

Next Game: Sunday February 17, 2013 – 6:00 PM – AT Winnipeg Jets

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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. 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.

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