The Bruins (23-10-2) gave away two valuable points Thursday in Buffalo as they led, 2-1, in the second period but the Sabres (9-23-3) scored three unanswered goals to take a surprising 4-2 win at First Niagara Center.
Boston outshot Buffalo 15-5 in the third period and 36-23 for the game, but Ryan Miller (34 saves) - who could once again be Team USA’s starter at the Olympics - stood tall in goal for the Sabres.
Lynnfield native and University of Maine product Brian Flynn scored a highlight reel goal to start things off. He skated in shorthanded late in the first period and beat Chad Johnson (19 saves) with a high backhander. Brad Marchand scored a shorthanded goal of his own early in the second period and then he added another tally 1:14 after that. The Bruins started to flex their muscles on the NHL’s worst team but credit Buffalo for hanging around.
Marcus Foligno tied it at two late in the second period when Jamie McBain’s shot bounced in off Foligno’s chest. Johnson’s inability to stop a routine wraparound shot came back to bite him as Drew Stafford got the game-winner late in the third period, then Tyler Myers added an insurance tally 1:20 after that. Johnson was pulled for an extra attacker and Bruins head coach Claude Julien used his timeout, but a comeback never materialized for Boston.
What they'll be saying: David Warsofsky (a Marshfield, Mass. native) made his NHL debut, playing with Johnny Boychuk on the third defensive pairing. In 12:29, he was minus-1 with a blocked shot. He’s out of the Torey Krug mold: a small puck-moving defenseman that is a good skater. After so much focus on John Scott coming into this game, it figured that Buffalo’s favorite goon was a healthy scratch. You’ll remember that the last time these teams met (5-2 Bruins win in Buffalo on Oct. 23) Scott gave Loui Eriksson his first concussion of the season.
- This was Marchand’s best game of the season - he even had a couple of really good chances to get a hat trick. It was ironic timing since earlier Thursday Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said that Boston didn’t want to trade Marchand.
- Johnson (6-2-0) is a backup goaltender for a reason, I don’t want to get on him too much since he’s been fine this season, but he has to make the save on Stafford’s wraparound. Needless to say, Rask would have stopped it in his sleep. The Bruins’ top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla had a couple dominant shifts but nothing to show for it. That is juxtaposed by Buffalo having 10 guys get on the scoresheet, no small feat for a team that is by far the lowest scoring team in the NHL (63 goals in 35 games). Saturday is Boston’s last home game before the Christmas break (no NHL games between Dec. 24-26).
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate