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Eriksson's OT goal lifts Bruins past Sabres

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- For the second time in three games, Loui Eriksson was the overtime hero for the Boston Bruins.

After defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored his second goal of the game with 1:31 remaining in regulation to force overtime, Eriksson scored with 2:14 elapsed in the extra session to earn the Bruins a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Sunday.

The Bruins (17-14-3) beat Minnesota last Wednesday in overtime on a goal from Eriksson. On Sunday, Eriksson had just gone over the boards during a line change when he received a pass from Milan Lucic at the Sabres blue line. Eriksson took the puck to the net and beat goaltender Jhonas Enroth.

"I knew I had a guy on me right away, so I know I had to maybe shoot it right away," Eriksson said. "And I found a hole between his legs there. So it was nice to see it go in."

Hamilton had three points and goaltender Tuukka Rask made 26 saves for the Bruins, who are 2-2-2 in their past six games. Boston scored more than two goals for the second time in that span.

"I think it was a gut-check. ... We just kept plugging away and took a long time to get the goal, but we did and you win in overtime," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Wins are tough to come by these days, so when you get them you take them and you try to build on the positives."

The Bruins were in danger of losing a second straight one-goal game before Hamilton took advantage of the Bruins' 6-on-5 advantage with his second goal of the game. Hamilton scored on a wide-open wrist shot from the right circle with 1:31 remaining to tie the score 3-3.

"Yeah ... I think it was getting a little scary when we're in a losing position and it feels good now obviously, so I thought we played pretty good," Hamilton said. "I think we have to be happy with our effort and even putting pucks on the net and getting opportunities. I think we had a fair amount. I think they clogged the net a lot and blocked a lot of shots and stuff, but I thought we had a lot of opportunities and good puck movement and everything."

The Sabres (13-18-3) have lost three in row. Enroth, who started on back-to-back nights because Michal Neuvirth was sick, made 33 saves.

It was a gutsy effort for the Sabres to earn one point; Buffalo was at a decided disadvantage in terms of manpower from the start and the loss of players continued throughout the game. The Sabres started without defenseman Tyler Myers because of a lower-body injury. Forwards Matt Moulson and Patrick Kaleta were out sick, and before the game coach Ted Nolan said several other players were ill.

Late in the first period, forward Brian Gionta was injured on a hit by Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski and forward Marcus Foligno was injured in the ensuing fight with Bartkowski. Gionta and Foligno did not return to the game because of upper-body injuries. Bartkowski received a game misconduct.

"Yeah, I mean going down to three lines early and losing a couple more guys, just the way that the game ended you're disappointed, but the effort, you're right, we couldn't have asked for more," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. "They gave us everything they had and we have a [Tim] Schaller going head-to-head against a [Patrice] Bergeron all night and it's kind of a … he's only played three games in the NHL. So I thought that all things being equal we did a great job."

Schaller, a rookie from Merrimack, N.H., put the Sabres ahead 3-2 with 1:27 gone in the third period with his first NHL goal on a wraparound. He was called up Sunday from the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League because of the injuries and illness afflicting the Sabres. Schaller's parents made it to the game.

"I didn't even know how to celebrate," he said. "I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed."

The Bruins took advantage of their first power play twice, but only one of their goals counted in the first period. At 5:32 of the first period, Reilly Smith seemed to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a slap shot from the high slot, but the goal was waved off because of goaltender interference by Eriksson.

Twenty seconds later, Hamilton scored on a one-timer from the left hash mark off a feed from Carl Soderberg to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. Boston had been 0-for-11 on the power play over its past five games.

The Sabres wound up with a three-minute power play late in the period because of a major for interference against Bartkowski for the hit on Gionta, but the Bruins killed the man advantage.

Enroth kept the Sabres in the game during the power play when he stopped Boston center Patrice Bergeron on a breakaway with less than three minutes to play in the first period.

Buffalo tied the game 1-1 on an Andrej Meszaros goal at 6:06 of the second period when he drove to the net and buried a feed from Chris Stewart. Buffalo then took the lead 2-1 on a power-play goal by defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on a shot that went off Boston defenseman Torey Krug's skate at 14:36.

The Bruins evened the score 2-2 one minute later on Chris Kelly's tip-in from between the hash marks. The goal was Kelly's first in 23 games.

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