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game recap

Bruins complete season-series sweep of Sabres

Tuukka Rask makes 26 saves to help Boston finish 4-0-0 against Buffalo

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask made 26 saves to help the Boston Bruins complete their first-ever season-series sweep of the Buffalo Sabres with a 3-1 win at TD Garden on Saturday.

Frank Vatrano, Patrice Bergeron and Tim Schaller scored for the Bruins (20-15-4), who went 4-0-0 against the Sabres (13-15-8). Buffalo was the last team Boston had not swept.

The Bruins, who defeated the Sabres 4-2 at KeyBank Center on Thursday, have won consecutive games for the first time since they won three straight Dec. 1-5. The Bruins also scored first for the first time in three games.

 

WATCH: All Sabres vs. Bruins highlights

 

"It's something that we've talked about. We obviously want to improve and we want to get that first goal more often instead of battling back from two or three goals," Rask said. "I thought we came out really strong today like we wanted to. We put pucks in deep and went to work there. It paid off, so it's something we have to build on."

Jack Eichel scored his seventh goal and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for the Sabres, who have won once in their past seven games (1-4-2).

Video: BUF@BOS: Lehner stones Schaller on the doorstep

"We're shocked. Of course we're angry. We're disappointed," Lehner said. "We expect more. It feels like we're chasing it out there. It takes a lot of energy for us out there to get something going. It doesn't seem to take a lot for opponents, 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, quality chances."

Vatrano gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead 1:28 into the first period. It was Vatrano's 10th NHL goal but his first at home.

"Being from [Massachusetts], obviously everybody's dream growing up is to score at the Garden," said Vatrano, who hails from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. "For me it was pretty cool to be able to do that. It's even better that we got the win."

Video: BUF@BOS: Denna Laing drops first puck in Boston

Bergeron scored a power-play goal 7:04 into the second period for a 2-0 lead. Schaller beat Lehner with a backhand shot from the bottom of the right circle at 9:29 to make it 3-0.

Eichel made it 3-1 with 21.2 seconds remaining in the second.

Video: BUF@BOS: Eichel wires one-timer through traffic

 

Goal of the game

After a cross-ice pass from defenseman Zdeno Chara, Vatrano scored with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle.

Video: BUF@BOS: Vatrano beats Lehner with blistering wrister

 

Save of the game

Rask made a glove save on Derek Grant's wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle 4:00 into the third period.

Video: BUF@BOS: Rask denies Grant with big glove save

 

Highlight of the game

Bergeron scored what proved to be the game-winning goal on a one-timer from the right hash mark after Brad Marchand retrieved the puck behind the net and passed it out to Ryan Spooner at the right dot. Spooner then passed to Bergeron.

Video: BUF@BOS: Bergeron finishes slick passing with PPG

 

Unsung performance of the game

The Bruins' penalty kill went 4-for-4, and Chara was on the ice for 5:51 of the eight minutes Boston was shorthanded. Chara also blocked five shots and was credited with five hits.

 

They said it

"We need to get more desperate. Guys need to understand where we are in the season, where we are in the standings and we need to start making a move now. We can't continue to wait. We said it before Christmas it was a big week and we blew it, and then again this week. We had two huge games coming against these guys for that final divisional playoff spot, and it's just a disappointment." - Sabres captain Brian Gionta

 

"I think it's nice to get results. I think you don't second-guess yourself as much and it makes you ... relax a little bit more. But you try to do the right things all over the ice. Obviously I know that offense is a part of my game and it has to be a part of my game. I have to bring that to the team." - Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron, who has seven goals and has scored in consecutive games for the first time this season

 

Need to know

Sabres forward Johan Larsson sustained a dislocated wrist in the first period and did not return. He's expected to be out several weeks. Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges sustained a hip pointer and didn't return after the first period. The Sabres were already without forward William Carrier, who missed the game with a hand injury he sustained against the Bruins on Thursday. Carrier is day-to-day. ... Spooner and defenseman Torey Krug each had an assist and have points in five consecutive games. ... Bruins forward David Backes missed the game with a concussion he sustained Thursday. He's out indefinitely.

Video: BUF@BOS: Schaller takes on defense, pots backhander

 

What's next

Sabres: At the New York Rangers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, MSG, NHL.TV)

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Monday (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, NESN, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Bruins end year on high note with 3-1 win vs. Sabres

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