BOSTON -- The Bruins have to be awfully happy they got the struggling Buffalo Sabres at the exact perfect time in the schedule as the Black and Gold were looking for a pick-me-up.
After stumbling out of the gate with shoddy first periods in the last few games, the Bruins bounded out of the starting gate swiftly on Saturday afternoon against the Sabres while scoring the game’s first three goals en route to a 3-1 win at TD Garden. It finished off the home-and-home sweep of the Sabres just prior to the close of the 2016 portion of the regular season schedule, and handed the Bruins a four game sweep of the regular season series against the woebegone Sabres hockey club.
The victory also marked the fourth time in the last five games that the Bruins have scored more than two goals as their offense begins to surge upward.
It was Frank Vatrano that opened up the scoring in the first period when he rifled home a cross-ice pass from Zdeno Chara, and scored from the right face off circle area where he’ll do a lot of damage if he’s given time and space to shoot. The B’s continued to push in the second period with Patrice Bergeron notching his third goal in the last five games on a power play strike from the slot, and Tim Schaller sneaking a backhanded bid on a right wing rush straight toward Robin Lehner.
The Sabres got one of the goals back with a sniped Jack Eichel shot in the closing seconds of the second period, but the Bruins held strong in the third with a physical, energetic and mostly dominant 60 minutes of hockey against the Sabres.
Tuukka Rask was once again excellent in making 26 saves and picking up his 19th win of the season to improve to 19-7-3 on the year.
The Bruins announced Sunday they have signed Harvard forward Ryan Donato to an entry-level contract.
Donato will be eligible to play in tomorrow's game vs the Blue Jackets.
The 21-year-old led Harvard in scoring in 2017-18, recording 26 goals and 17 assists for 43 points in 29 games. Donato also represented Team USA at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where he tied for the most goals in the Olympics with five in five games.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while the Bruins are finally back in Boston.
*Larry Brooks says that the NHL playoff system is broken as it continues to “pass off mediocrity as parity.” I don’t really agree that there’s a big problem, but it will be too bad that one of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams (Boston and Tampa Bay) will be done after the second round of the playoffs.
*A pretty cool gesture from the Montreal Canadiens as a group of them wore turtlenecks during warm-ups on Saturday night prior to playing Tomas Plekanec for the first timer as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
*Congrats to the Team USA Paralympics squad for capturing another Gold Medal for the Red, White and Blue. What a great story they are.
*Evander Kane opens up about Winnipeg, his past on social media and hockey culture as he seems to have found a place where he’s comfortable in San Jose.
*The Carolina Hurricanes are suspending their GM search until the group of available candidates can widen in the offseason. That was probably always for the best.
*The New York Islanders are getting a little weird with things here late in the season as they’re taking a look at John Tavares on the wing. Hmmm. Seems like an odd move.
*For something completely different: A great return for Bill Hader to Saturday Night Live where he revisited a number of his best characters.