- The Bruins are a team that prides themselves on a strong defense-first approach - something that has defined them through the years. So when the Buffalo Sabres came into TD Garden Thursday night on a four-game losing streak and walked away with a 7-4 win, the unfulfilled feeling permeated throughout the group.
"I thought offensively we did a good job, we had a lot of chances, we scored four goals," B's Head Coach Claude Julien told a room filled with media following the game. "Defensively, I don't think I remember the last time we were this bad. The breakdowns and mistakes we made."
"And the opportunities - when you give [Thomas] Vanek those kind of opportunities," Coach Julien added, on the Buffalo forward's hat trick that catapulted the Sabres to the W tonight. "He's going to make the most of it. So, I don't think we were extremely good on defense and that's what cost us the game tonight."
After a scoreless first period, it was Vanek's first of the night that got the Sabres off to a 1-0 lead early in the second period, when Zdeno Chara uncharacteristically turned over the puck to Jason Pominville at the B's blueline, who quickly generated a 2-on-1.
"They’re good players. They make good plays," said Chara on the Sabres ability to put seven goals on the board. "But I think it was more about us not playing well defensively."
"So we made some mistakes we have to correct."
"Sometimes you’re going to have nights like that. I didn’t play my best game, that’s for sure. I made some mistakes that cost us."
It seemed as though the mistake would be quickly rectified by his teammates, however, as Rich Peverley got the B's on at the board just over four minutes later with his first of the season and started a flurry of chances for Boston. The play started with a great forecheck by Chris Kelly and Dan Paille (playing up on the third line with Chris Bourque out tonight and Lane MacDermid on the fourth line) put a quick shot on Miller, before Peverley's patience getting a shot through paid off.
"We really gained a lot of momentum off his goal, he did a great job at getting a score, and we just need to continue to feed off of it," said Brad Marchand, who scored two back-to-back goals of his own to give the B's a 3-1 lead in the second.
"We were playing pretty good up until we got in some penalty trouble and after that we just couldn’t get it back."
When Chara went off for holding and Milan Lucic for boarding towards the end of the second period, the 5-on-3 saw Vanek get his second of the night, and Tyler Ennis followed up with the tying goal not long after.
"I thought we had a good game going at that point," said Peverley. "Usually 5-on-3’s are turning points in games whenever they are - they scored a big goal there."
"They only made it 3-2 at that point, but we didn't come back after we killed the rest of it, we didn't come back very well," said Coach Julien. "It certainly gave them some life and they go into the third period, instead of being down, 3-1, they're in a 3-3 hockey game. Certainly was a big boost for them."
David Krejci would shift the momentum early in the third with a curl-and-dangle highlight reel goal that gave Boston a 4-3 lead and got the Garden jumping, but Buffalo broke through for three unanswered goals and an empty-netter to seal it off as the seconds wound down. It marked the first time the B's had surrendered a goal in the final frame this season.
"We had a good start to the third, getting the first goal. But they were able to respond right back, and they were able to kind of gain momentum and keep it," said Milan Lucic, who's parking spot in front of Ryan Miller all night generated some of the B's best chances, including a high-octane sequence in the first period that showcased the cycling of the top line with Krejci and Nathan Horton.
"It seemed like every time they had an odd-man rush they were able to capitalize on it," he added, on their ability to come back all night. "I think that was ultimately what got them the win."
"I didn't expect this type of game because it wasn't our type of game," said Coach Julien. "When you look at the way we played, the sloppiness of guys left by themselves around our net. The puck watching and all over the place. It was really a disappointing, I guess, loss in a way, where our guys defensively were just totally, totally out of it."
"When you score four goals with our team that's usually enough," added Julien. "I don't remember the last time we got seven scored against us. It's very uncharacteristic of our hockey club and that's why we lost the game tonight."
Peverley, who could have had the chance to enjoy his first goal of the season, instead sat in the locker room, dismayed at the B's uncharacteristic night.
"We usually pride ourselves on defense and being a hard team to play against, and they had a lot of chances tonight from in close and you cant really fault Tuukka for any of the goals," he said. "So we’ll have to regroup here and look to really play a better defensive game in Toronto."