The Boston Bruins
have been winning with defense. On Wednesday, they proved they can win with offense, too.
The B's stunned the home fans at TD Banknorth Garden by letting the visiting Buffalo Sabres
run all over the place in the first period. The Sabres scored four times and outshot Boston 14-7. Fortunately for the Bruins, they put three of those shots behind Ryan Miller
, then came out and scored three more in the second period to roll to a 7-4 victory, their biggest offensive night of the season.
"We got ourselves in trouble early and that is uncharacteristic of our team to give up those kinds of opportunities," Bruins coach Claude Julien
said. "Throughout the course of an 82-game season there will be some ugly wins, but we will take them any way we can get them."
There have been lots of wins for the Bruins recently. They are 7-0-1 in their last eight games, 10-1-1 in their last 12, and they lead the Northeast Division with 28 points. They haven't lost in regulation since a 3-2 defeat at Calgary on Oct. 30.
It looked early on as if that hot streak might end. The Sabres led 4-2 just 12:27 into the game when Thomas Vanek
scored his second of the night and League-leading 15th of the season.
Then the bottom fell out for Buffalo. Marc Savard
made it a one-goal game at 13:08 before the Sabres fell apart in the second period.
"We did a lot of good things in the first period, but we had some individuals make some bad mistakes," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff
said. "If we cough up the puck and take bad penalties, we aren't going to beat anybody."
They did both — and paid the price.
teed up a power-play slapper and blew it past Miller at 2:37 to tie the game at 4-4. Chuck Kobasew
, who also had the Bruins' first goal, put Boston ahead at 12:31 with the most deflating tally of the night — he threw the puck into the crease from behind the net and saw it hit Miller's back and trickle over the goal line.
"I just got lucky," Kobasew said. "I try it once in a while and if it works, it works. ... if not, you hope it bounces to a teammate."
Chara connected again on the power play at 17:12. Phil Kessel
completed the scoring and sent Miller to the bench when he scored 1:16 into the third period. Savard assisted on Kessel's goal and both of Chara's for a four-point night to reach the 600-point mark for his career.
"It's a special night," Savard said of the milestone. "I didn't think I'd get it all in one night. I can't say enough about the guys. Without them, it wouldn't be possible."
Miller allowed seven goals on just 20 shots as the Sabres lost their third in a row and fourth in five games. They've allowed 18 goals in the three losses and 29 in the five games since recording back-to-back shutouts to start the month.
"Maybe we are thinking too much about what the other team is going to do," said forward Jason Pominville
, who had a goal and two assists in the Sabres' big first period. "We can't give up goals the way we did and hand them those kinds of opportunities."