By John Bishop, BostonBruins.com
Boston – The Black & Gold fell to the best team in the NHL, 5-4, as the Buffalo Sabres scored three goals in the third period, forced a scoreless sudden death overtime session and defeated the home standing Boston Bruins in a shootout.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller kept the visitors close, closed the door for Buffalo in the overtime and shootout periods and gave his offense time to recover from Boston’s three-goal lead.
Meanwhile, Buffalo forward Maxim Afinogenov scored two goals in the third stanza and his teammate Ales Kotalik scored the game tying goal in the third and the winner in the shootout to lift the Sabres to the victory and raise their league leading record to 11-0-1.
Boston, who fell to 3-5-2, certainly got off on the right foot gaining a power play early in the first period, just 46 seconds into the game. But Miller, the NHL’s First Star for the month of October, held the Bruins scoreless in their first extra-man opportunity.
While the Bruins were unable to convert on their lone first period power play chance, the ice seemed tilted in Boston’s favor during the remainder of the first session and most of the offensive excitement happened in the visitor’s end.
Miller played brilliantly, however, and made 16 saves through 20 minutes and sent the teams to the locker room tied at 0-0 at the first intermission.
But Boston’s P.J. Axelsson continued his own red-hot play and opened the game’s scoring when he took a gorgeous pass from Marc Savard
and deposited the puck behind Miller at just 1:16 of the second period. Rookie defenseman Matt Lashoff started the play and earned his first NHL point in the process as the Bruins went up 1-0.
Jason Pominville countered for the Sabres and scored his eighth goal of the season when he tipped a Brian Campbell shot past Tim Thomas
’ right shoulder and into the top corner of the Boston net at 6:43.
But Boston fought back.
With the Bruins on the power play, Savard followed up on a rebound off a goalpost and put a backhander past Miller to score his 2nd goal of the season.
The goal put Boston up by a score of 2-1 at 13:36 of the second.
The Bruins added to their lead with a late power play goal by Glen Murray, who gathered the ricochet off a Savard shot that hit Miller high in the chest, and slam-dunked the puck to the right of the goalie at 19:16 to send Boston to the locker room in control of the game and leading 3-1.
After the break, Bruins forward Mark Mowers also added to the Boston lead when he took a feed from Brad Boyes to earn his first goal of the year and put Boston up 4-1 at 3:56 of the 3rd period.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the third period was all Buffalo, as the Sabres scored three unanswered goals and dashed the hopes of the Boston faithful.
Maxim Afinogenov scored his seventh of the year at 11:11 to move Buffalo within a couple of scores. He then scored his eighth of the season at 17:30 to put the Sabres within one goal.
Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik notched his fourth goal of the season at 18:25, tied the game at 4-4, and sent the game to sudden death overtime.
Boston could not get much going during the extra period, as they had to kill a Buffalo power play, and were only able to muster one shot on Miller in sudden death.
However, Boston goaltender Tim Thomas
, who finished with 29 saves, stopped all four of the Sabres shots in the extra session to keep the fourth period scoreless and force a shootout to decide the point distribution.
Unfortunately for Boston, it was Kotalik and Miller who starred in that final session, and the Sabres left town with the shootout win and the extra standings point as Miller saved 2 of 3 chances while Buffalo co-captain Daniel Briere, and third period hero Kotalik, each scored for the visiting team.
“That’s the nature of this game,” said Boston Head Coach Dave Lewis. “It was a case of not getting the puck out when you had a chance to get it out.
“You either get the job done or you don’t get the job done.
“And we did not get the job done,” he said.
“We ended up chasing the puck a lot,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
. “They got a hold of those pucks and scored.
“It’s always tough to lose like that.”
“You’re up 4-1 against a team like that, and as well as we played in the first 52 minutes, it’s unacceptable,” said defenseman Paul Mara. “We have to have a killer mentality and go out there and play tough for the final eight minutes.
“And we didn’t do that.”
Boston next plays Saturday when they face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning.