The 3-2 win gave them two prime points.
“It was a very tight game, right from the bat,” said Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves on 28 shots in the victory. “I think it was a good up and down game. Both teams had some offensive zone time with some chances and you really had to fight for every inch on the ice there.”
“I mean, you can’t be looking at the standings anymore because every team’s good and Buffalo’s a good team and they showed it today, so thankfully we got the win.”
Buffalo was coming off a 4-1 come-from-behind win in Montreal the night before.
They grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second, when Sam Reinhart scored just 47 seconds into the period, following up Evander Kane’s first period tally.
“Nobody panicked and everybody continued to compete,” said Head Coach Claude Julien. “The passes and execution just got better and our game got better as well — so I liked our game.”
“I know it’s a shootout win, but that’s a team that’s playing pretty well on the other side and even though they played [Wednesday] night, I thought they had good legs, and we know from here on in, it’s going to be tough, they’re going to be grinding games and we’ve just got to manage ourselves into staying into it like we did tonight and finding ways to win.”
Luckily for the Bruins, Ryan Spooner responded just 58 seconds after Reinhart’s tally to make it a one-goal game once again, when he potted his own rebound off an initial drive from Torey Krug.
“They went up by two there and we could have gotten down on ourselves a bit, but I thought we handled that extremely well,” said Spooner, who also notched the shootout winner. “And that was good to see.”
“That was huge,” said Julien. “Because shortly after, we get ourselves back in the game and I thought from that point in the second period, we seemed to kind of not take over the game completely, but we had a better second half than they did after Spooner scored.”
“So that was an important goal for us and kept us alive.”
At 2:44 into the third, Marchand tied the game at 2-2 with his 23rd goal of the season and his eighth in eight games.
He wheeled into the zone, put the puck through his legs, left Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian behind, and surprised netminder Chad Johnson with a backhanded high on the short side.
“We were battling hard, guys were coming back hard and we played right down to the wire,” said Marchand. “Those are the type of games we need to know how to win and I thought we showed some good character.”
Marchand isn’t so focused on his own torrid offensive play, as he is on playing an all-around game.
“I think I could still improve on some areas and more defensively,” said Marchand. “At times, I’ve tried to force things a little bit too much, but I think that normally happens when I’m feeling confident about where I’m at and things are going right, so if I can still play smart and make the right play and clean up defensively, it will only help our team more.”
The Bruins now have a 21-3-4 record in games where Marchand has a point this season and are 14-2-3 in games which he has scored a goal.
“He’s been really good,” said Julien, who spoke pregame about Marchand needing to just focus on a strong two-way game for the team. “Tonight, he wasn’t just good scoring — he was good everywhere. He was all over the ice.”
He had great skating legs and did a great job on the penalty kill, coming back, so I thought tonight was probably a real complete game on his part. When he plays like that, he becomes one of the good players around the League, no doubt.”
Both teams had chances towards the end of the third and in the overtime, especially given that each team went on a 4-on-3 power play.
Patrice Bergeron was robbed by Johnson on the doorstep, and then watched from the penalty box after a hook as the Bruins successfully made the kill.
That set up a three-round shootout, where the Bruins only needed two shooters and three saves from Rask.
Spooner went first for Boston, cutting wide to the right half wall before weaving in and putting it past Johnson. It was the only tally the Bruins needed, even if Marchand’s bid was turned aside.
Spooner is now a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout this season, earning he Black & Gold
“I mean, in the past, I’ve done a couple moves and they haven’t really worked out,” said Spooner. “Once you get one, it’s kind of in the back of your head that you can actually score so that’s kind of been the mindset for me and I usually Rask, like, ‘what do you think I should do here?’”
“The last game, he told me not to do my move, to just kind of shoot it and that worked, and tonight, I asked him and he told me to maybe cut back, but I just kind of shot it up there, and it worked.”
“He asked me last time he scored and I think he pretty much did the same move, so I don’t know — if I see something, if I know the goalie well, I might say something,” smiled Rask, of the advice-giving. “But I mean, not every time. I don’t want to take credit for him scoring.”
Ultimately, the Bruins were able to grind out the win, shootout or not.
“To me, we were as gritty as I’d seen us in a long time, just doing what we needed to do,” said Julien. “Whether it was trying to block shots and getting pucks out and we did the right things. Even though it was a tight game, I liked our focus and the way we played through 60 minutes.”
“It got better and at no point in the game did I feel that our team had lost its intensity.”