BOSTON - The Buffalo Sabres' penalty killers were able to hold off the Boston Bruins' attack for 40 minutes, but a pair of goals on an extended power play early in the third period lifted Boston to a 3-2 victory Sunday night at TD Garden.
Johan Larsson was called for tripping and hooking on the same sequence 1:23 into the third and then Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk scored twice 18 seconds apart on the four-minute man advantage to put the Bruins ahead.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored his fourth goal of the season, making it 1-1 and Curtis Lazar also tallied for Buffalo. Lazar's goal came just 2:13 after DeBruk's second goal to put the Sabres within one.
"The way we played as a team here, we do this consistently, we're going to get results," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's finding the confidence and the belief and keep digging down to continue to stick with the game plan that we had here today. This is one of the premier teams in the league, but right now, shortly after, the pain is what dominates. We again have to use pain to get stronger."
Video: BUF Recap: Ristolainen, Sabres lose to Bruins
Buffalo's penalty kill was 3-for-3, allowing just three shots on goal before the Bruins' 4-minute power play early in the third put them ahead. Boston's power play officially finished 2-for-6 with 7:49 of ice time.
Sabres rookie Rasmus Asplund had two scoring chances in the second period while shorthanded. First, he picked up the puck at the top of the left faceoff circle and managed to get a shot on goal. Crashing the net for a rebound, he ended up in the back of the net, taking the cage off its moorings. He later put a shot on goal from the right wing with Lazar going to the net.
"We did such a good job, especially killing them off in the second period," Lazar said. "If you give a team with a power play like that opportunity after opportunity, it's going to come back and get you. Overall, I thought our team did a great job battling. We stuck with it all the way through and made things interesting. There's a lot of positives to go off of here."
Video: POSTGAME: Lazar
The Sabres shuffled their lines heading into the game and in the early going, they were able to create offensive changes and limit the Bruins' opportunities. Shots after the first period were 7-2 in favor of the Sabres, but Boston capitalized on their second shot of the game with 7:21 left to open the scoring. David Pastrnak finished a 2-on-1 play with a shot over Linus Ullmark's glove.
The game opened up a bit more offensively in the second period with Buffalo outshooting Boston 12-11, and 19-13 overall. Ullmark finished the game with 19 saves while Tuukka Rask stopped 24 Sabres shots.
The Sabres tied it up on an odd-man rush 6:37 into the second period. Ristolainen jumped into the play and one-timed a pass from Sam Reinhart on net. Rask and Zdeno Chara both inadvertently helped push the loose puck over the goal line.
Video: POSTGAME: Ristolainen
Then down 3-1 after Boston's third-period power-play conversions, Conor Sheary forced a turnover to extend Buffalo's offensive zone time and then set up a screen in front that led to Buffalo's second goal. With Sheary parked in front, Lazar knocked in a rebound 5:08 into the third for his second of the season
"As a whole here, we came in knowing if we put our best out there, you just have to see what happens, and live in the present there," Lazar said. "You're not going to play the perfect game always, especially against a good team in a tough barn, but we kept on battling and competing. We're playing for each other. As we continue to go here, we've got to embrace that, rally around each other and build off things shift by shift."
The Sabres had two power-play opportunities in the first period and Victor Olofsson nearly capitalized with 2:17 remaining when he hit the crossbar. Lazar also hit the crossbar with about 7:27 remaining.
Buffalo was afforded a late chance on the power play with 4:09 to play and then pulled the goalie with 2:27 remaining to sustain offensive pressure. Ristolainen and Reinhart were set up in front of the net, but the Bruins were able to get out of that final five minutes unscathed and pick up the two points.
Video: POSTGAME: Krueger
"Risto is somebody we give the green light to to bring his style of offense to that part of the net. I think we can all learn from that and grow and build on it," Krueger said. "Also, Lazar's goal was just a pure, sheer effort into that dirty area, getting gritty. Really, really pleased with those two. We needed to stick one more of those in and we didn't. It wasn't enough, but those are definitely positive highlights of the game."
Buffalo will look to build on the effort heading into their New Year's Eve home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I am proud of the effort right through the lineup," Krueger said. "I think we've got something going on here with the new lineup and really look forward to building on it against Tampa Bay."