After a crucial last-minute comeback rally in Buffalo, here are my talking from points from a gritty Saturday night win as the Bruins now turn their focus to the Winter Classic:
GOLD STAR: Sean Kuraly has been grinding things out on the fourth line for most of this season, so nobody would blame him if he got a little bit more than excited getting a chance to skate with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Kuraly got that shot subbing in for the injured Brad Marchand, after Danton Heinen was quickly pulled from that spot early in the game against the Sabres, and he responded big time. Kuraly ended up scoring the game-winning goal in overtime when he won a defensive zone face-off, fired a shot on the Sabres net after getting the puck in the neutral zone, and then followed his shot to pop home the rebound for his third goal of the season. Kuraly finished with the goal and a plus-1 rating in 15:43 of ice time, four shots on net and a couple of hits to go along with the big face-off win in OT.
BLACK EYE: Danton Heinen is deep in the doghouse at this point. Heinen was given a chance to sub in for the injured Brad Marchand on the left side of Boston’s top line, and he was quickly yanked from that spot in the first period when it was clear he didn’t have it. Heinen played eight minutes while spending long portions of the game on the Bruins bench, and he didn’t finish with a single shot on net when he was on the ice. Heinen actually had a golden chance to tie things up in the third period when a Buffalo turnover put the puck on his stick right in the slot area, but Heinen couldn’t even get a shot off on the Sabres net. Last season he would have scored on that play. That’s how low it feels like Heinen’s offensive confidence is at this point.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins seized control of the game in the third period when they got a late power play, thanks to a kneeing penalty on Rasmus Ristolainen taking down David Pastrnak. The B’s top PP unit dominated possession on the shift keeping it away from the Sabres' penalty kill, and eventually Torey Krug fired a moving point shot that Jake DeBrusk redirected into the back of the Buffalo net for the game-tying strike. Once the game was tied, the Bruins had enough momentum to kill off a bad David Krejci penalty in overtime and then score the game-winner to give Boston a hugely important two points in the Atlantic Division playoff standings.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jake DeBrusk was on the ice for a pair of goals against the Bruins, but he was also heavily involved in Boston’s offensive attack. In only his second game back from a concussion, DeBrusk fearlessly attacked the net and camped out in front on Boston’s power play that tied the game with just a couple of minutes to go in the third period. DeBrusk also absorbed a big hit in the first period that never slowed him down, and instead finished with the goal, eight shot attempts, one hit and a takeaway that played a big role in the overtime win. It’s good news for the B’s that it only took two games for DeBrusk to get back into the full swing of things.
BY THE NUMBERS: 22:49 – Patrice Bergeron led all Bruins players in the time on ice department and did an excellent job of locking down Jack Eichel defensively after the Sabres forward dominated in the last meeting between the B’s and Sabres.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “Right now it’s a tough time scoring. So we have to defend hard and then make sure that we capitalize on some opportunities when we get them. That’s how it played out tonight.” –Bruce Cassidy, to NESN, on the mentality grinding through a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.