GOLD STAR: Rasmus Ristolainen was pretty outstanding for the Sabres throughout the game, and really earned that empty net goal he got from long distance at the very end of the game. Ristolainen finished with a game-high 27:03 of ice time, threw five hits, blocked three shots and had four shot attempts to go along with his plus-2 rating. Credit Ristolainen along with many other Sabres players with adopting a hard-nosed, high work ethic game that it didn’t seem like the Bruins were ready to match on Saturday night. He was tough around the net, did a lot of the gritty grunt work required to win a hockey game and was one of the unquestioned on-ice leaders for a Sabres team that really had nothing to play once they took the ice. But they played hard anyway.
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BLACK EYE: There were a lot of ineffective-to-pretty bad players for the Bruins on Saturday night, and David Pastrnak definitely ranks on the low end of that scale. It was Pastrnak that fanned on a pass attempt near the offensive blue line that turned into a quick breakaway chance for Evander Kane in the second period. That sloppy play got the Bruins down by a goal and started the downward slide that continued for the rest of the game. Overall Pastrnak had just a single shot on net with three giveaways in his 18:17 of ice time, and finished a bad minus-2 on the evening. The B’s top line finished with just two shots on net, a minus-6 and had probably their worst game since being put together as a trio. Those kinds of games are bound to happen, but Pastrnak stood out as probably the worst of the three forwards on the whole for the game.
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TURNING POINT: After a “meh” first period against Buffalo, the Bruins sank even lower in the second period while getting outshot by a 13-10 margin. A couple of really poor plays at both of their blue lines opened things up for the Sabres, and compounded some mistakes that the Bruins made with their puck management. Just like that the Bruins were trailing by a 3-1 margin as the period ended, and the real kicker was an Adam McQuaid turnover by the side boards that turned into a 3-on-1 odd-man rush and a Benoit Pouliot goal against his former Bruins team. That goal happened in the last two minutes of the second period, and really took all the air out of the Black and Gold’s balloon after they’d closed things to a one-goal before prior to that. That was essentially all she wrote.
HONORABLE MENTION: Evander Kane can certainly be effective when he wants to be, and he was very effective for the Sabres on Saturday night. It was Kane that was freed for a breakaway goal in the opening few minutes of the second period after a David Pastrnak turnover, and he easily finished against Tuukka Rask to get the ball rolling for Buffalo. Kane finished with seven shot attempts, four hits and plenty of energy in 21:56 of ice time, and really stepped up to be “the guy” for the Sabres once Jack Eichel went down with his injury in the first period. There were plenty of other Buffalo players that deserved credit for bringing it on Saturday against Buffalo, but Kane was most definitely up toward the top of the list. This will be the type of game that goes to the top of the list for scouting reports when teams are talking about possibly taking a chance on Kane at the deadline.
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BY THE NUMBERS: 19-0-2 – the final number for Tuukka Rask’s point streak is 21 games as he was the losing goaltender vs. Buffalo after allowing three goals on 27 shots, in a game that was definitely not Rask’s fault at all.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It seemed like we were backfiring on everything we were throwing into the engine tonight.” –David Backes, on a night where the Bruins clearly just didn’t have it in a 4-2 loss to the Sabres.