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Stafford helps Sabres skate past Bruins

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- Drew Stafford's wraparound goal at 14:19 of the third period broke a tie and helped give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on Thursday.

Stafford scored his third goal of the season when he skated deep into the Bruins' zone and beat goalie Chad Johnson to the far post.

"It was a long time coming," Stafford said of his first goal since Nov. 5. "I had to stick with it. Sooner or later one was going to have to go in. The way that I'm getting my shots, getting chances. ... To get one there to contribute to a win makes it even better."

Brian Flynn gave the Sabres a 1-0 lead when he scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 16:27 of the first period. Flynn got the puck when Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk couldn't keep it in the zone at the blue line. Flynn poked the puck past Boychuk, raced in and put a backhander behind Johnson.

"I just didn't think I'd be able to cut across that other defenseman chasing me down," Flynn said. "We'd been out there a while so I just picked my head up and tried to throw it over the goalie's shoulder."

It was Flynn's third goal of the season and first in 20 games. His prior goal came Oct. 26 on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"The one thing about [Flynn], he has a real quiet demeanor about him," Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan said. "Sometimes you don't even know he's at practice unless you just watch him. He's so quiet. He was sure loud tonight the way he played."

Bruins forward Brad Marchand scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game at 1:50 of the second period. Marchand skated in on a 2-on-1 with Patrice Bergeron against defenseman Jamie McBain. Marchand didn't look to pass and beat goalie Ryan Miller for his second shorthanded goal of the season, tying him for the NHL lead.

Marchand's second of the game 1:14 later gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead. He took a slap shot from the faceoff circle that beat Miller over the shoulder into the top corner. The goals were Marchand's sixth and seventh of the season.

"I think he was close to his old self tonight and that was nice to see," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He competed hard in all areas and he skated better than I've seen him skate in a long time. He got rewarded with a couple goals and even could've had a few more with a little bit of luck. I liked his game tonight."

Marcus Foligno tied the game 2-2 when he scored off a rebound of a McBain shot at 17:11. The shot deflected into Foligno's chest at the side of the net, and he put it past Johnson untouched. It was Foligno's fifth goal of the season and marked the first time in his career he's scored goals in back-to-back games.

"It just starts with hard work," Foligno said. "That's what this team needs from me. It was good to get going in the first [with a fight against Matt Fraser], and obviously with the two points to help contribute offensively is good too."

Stafford's goal made it 3-2, and 1:20 later Tyler Myers scored his third goal of the season with an assist from Foligno to put the Sabres ahead by two.

"We stayed resilient and the way we came out in the third is exactly what we want to do in the final period at home in a tie game," Myers said. "It was a big character win for us and we just have to make sure we stay consistent with that play."

Miller made 34 saves; Johnson had 19. The teams will play again Saturday in Boston.

Sabres forward Cody Hodgson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. Hodgson's last shift came at 14:12 and lasted eight seconds before he headed off the ice.

"It could be a little while," Nolan said of Hodgson. "We'll get the doctor's report after this."

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