The Bruins (8-1-1) avenged their lone regulation loss so far this season with a 3-1 victory at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo (5-7-1) on Sunday night.
Backup goaltender Anton Khudobin (25 saves; 2-0-0) got his second start and second win (both on the road), Boston scored its first power play goal in five games and survived an otherworldly performance by Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller (36 saves) to win their third straight game. The B’s are tied with the Devils for first place in the Eastern Conference and they lead Toronto by three points for first place in the Northeast Division where the Sabres pull up the rear.
Brad Marchand was back in the lineup, along with Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton and unlike the 7-4 loss at the Garden on Jan. 31, the Bruins were the aggressor the entire time. Thankfully for Bruins fans, there was no rematch between Thornton and John Scott but Gregory Campbell and Patrick Kaleta threw down in the first period. Nobody scored in the first but Marchand tallied his team-leading sixth goal of the season off a nifty assist from Andrew Ference at 7:10 in the second period. Tyler Ennis tied it at 18:01 after yet another Bruins power play went down quietly.
As luck would have it, two guys who most people don’t want to see on Boston’s power play-Chris Bourque and Rich Peverley-had assists on Patrice Bergeron’s game-winner at 7:52 in the third period. Milan Lucic added an empty-netter with 49 seconds left complete with a salute to a bunch of Bruins fans in the corner of the arena.
The B’s and Rangers (5-5-0) will meet on Tuesday night (7:30 p.m., NESN) at TD Garden, the third time already this season that they’ve played and the second in Boston. The Bruins won 3-1 on Opening Night at the Garden and the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime at Madison Square Garden four nights later. New York is still looking for an identity while the Bruins are proving to be one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.
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Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Rich Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate