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Leading Men: Vets Propel B's

Effort of Boston's core sets tone in bounce-back win over Buffalo

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BUFFALO - David Pastrnak is known for a particular set of skills. His blazing speed, silky smooth hands, and his searing shot make him one of the game's most dangerous offensive threats.

And while he plays on what most consider the best all-around line in hockey, the 21-year-old's defensive efforts often go unheralded.

But not on Thursday night.

Fresh off a dreadful season-opening loss to Washington, the Bruins needed to put forth an effort they could be proud of, meaning the "little things" were going to be critical.

So when Pastrnak surged down the slot and launched into a full out dive to break up a Sabres' 2-on-1 attempt, it did not go unnoticed. The stellar back check triggered the Bruins' offensive attack, which concluded with Boston's first goal of the season.

Zdeno Chara capitalized on Brad Marchand's pinpoint pass to finish off the sequence and jumpstart the Bruins' en route to a 4-0 victory over the Sabres at KeyBank Center.

"That's what we need to have, we need to have five guys working together," said Chara. "And if not, then that's where those holes open up for teams to take advantage. It's important that we have forwards coming back and defensemen supporting the attack to be together and join as a unit of five."

Video: Marchand dishes out four assists in Bruins' 4-0 win

Following the Bruins' 7-0 loss to the Capitals on Wednesday, coach Bruce Cassidy pointed to his team's lack of effort as his biggest concern. Fortunately, the schedule worked out in their favor, with the back-to-back providing Boston an opportunity to immediately right the ship. But to do that, the team's veteran core was going to have to lead the way.

They did not disappoint with their response.

In addition to Chara's goal, Pastrnak potted his first goal of the season, Marchand piled up four assists, and veteran netminder Jaro Halak made 32 saves to pick up the shutout in his first start in Black & Gold.

"Our core guys," said Cassidy, "we all knew to a man, coaching staff on down, we weren't good enough last night. Better today…the guys we count on led and the followers followed. That's kind of the way it's scripted and it worked out for us tonight."

The Bruins reported to KeyBank Center on Thursday morning searching for answers after the debacle in D.C. But they did not hit the ice for a pregame skate, with Cassidy instead opting for a team meeting to dissect what went wrong the night before. It was during that film session that the tone was set for what needed to be a far better effort.

Video: Bruins Address media after a 4-0 win over Sabres

"It was big. We talked about it and obviously that's our job to lead this team," said Chara. "We put [Wednesday night] behind us - it's gonna happen. Very unfortunate, it's not the outcome we want, but we move on and we turned the page. Another home opener [in Buffalo] and we knew that we had to be playing much better with much better pace and work way harder than we did [against the Caps].

"It paid off. You could see guys were really coming back and had good sticks, blocking shots, making plays. I thought it was a good 60-minute effort and a good win. There's always room to improve, but better performance, better result, that's for sure."

After surrendering two goals in the game's first 1:47 against Washington, the Bruins knew a better start was required in Buffalo, prompting a first period during which they displayed a pace and structure that had been lacking during the season opener.

Chara's goal at 6:33 of the first period got the Bruins on the board, before Ryan Donato finished off another Marchand feed on the power play later in the frame to send Boston into the intermission up, 2-0, and with a far better taste in their mouths.

"It really took a lot out of us [Wednesday], two goals in the first two or three shifts, chasing the game right way," said Cassidy. "Hard in this league, I don't care who you are. It's just hard to win when you get behind. We've certainly overcome some deficits, but for us psychologically, it was good [to bounce back]."

Video: BOS@BUF: Chara joins the rush, beats Hutton

The Bruins sustained that effort, for the most part, throughout the night, and with Halak leading the way, stifled any surges from the Sabres crop of young talent. Pastrnak padded the lead late in the second, before Patrice Bergeron sealed the deal with an empty-netter in the game's closing seconds.

From beginning to end, it was an effort far more worthy of praise. And one that sends the Bruins home feeling like the season truly has begun.

"When you have the game [in Washington], it can definitely make you a little nervous of how things are gonna go," said Marchand. "I think this just gave us the confidence that we know we can settle down and bounce back. [Wednesday night] just wasn't our best night. We didn't play good, but we also weren't getting great bounces either. Just a bad combination.

"But a night like tonight just shows that we can compete on any night and it can go our way or it can go against us. You have to be prepared."

Video: BOS@BUF: Halak denies Eichel, gets some help in front

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