The Buffalo Sabres have been able to generate scoring chances and bury the puck the past two games. Their effort has resulted in two victories on home ice. Thursday night, they put down the top team in the Atlantic Division.
Buffalo defeated the Boston Bruins 4-2 at First Niagara Center. The Sabres have scored four goals in back-to-back games, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the end of last season.
Boston held a 2-1 lead before the Sabres came back with three unanswered goals. Buffalo also rallied from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-2.
Drew Stafford scored on a wraparound with 5:41 remaining in regulation to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead over Boston. He skated in around Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski and tucked the shot in past goaltender Chad Johnson’s right pad.
Brian Flynn and Marcus Foligno each recorded a goal and an assist for Buffalo. Tyler Myers scored Buffalo’s fourth goal with 4:21 left in the third on a nice feed from Flynn.
Brad Marchand scored both of Boston’s goals. Johnson stopped 19 shots for the Bruins. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller made 34 saves.
The Sabres have had their confidence bolstered lately with the strong offensive output that’s also resulting in earning two points in the standings.
“It helps winning games. It’s fun coming to the rink. It just boosts the morale,” Flynn said. “We knew we were getting closer and closer. It’s a matter of just scoring the goals that we have the past two games. We’ve had the chances we just haven’t bared down. The past few games we’ve been able to do that.”
The Sabres opened the scoring as Flynn tallied shorthanded with 3:33 remaining in the first period. He raced past the Bruins defense and roofed a backhand over Johnson. It was Buffalo’s first shorthanded goal of the year and the first for the Sabres since Flynn scored on April 22 against Montreal.
The goal was Flynn’s third of the year. He also had an assist on Tuesday.
“I feel pretty confident, comfortable of what’s expected of me,” he said. “Make sure I just do a really good job defensively, don’t get scored on, do a good job on the penalty kill. And then you have games like this, it’s a little bit of a bonus.”
The Bruins took the lead right back when the teams took the ice for the second period. Boston tied the game with a shorthanded goal of its own as Marchand scored his first on a 2-on-1 with Patrice Bergeron 1:50 in. Marchard collected a Johnny Boychuk feed up near the Sabres blue line and skated in down the right wing before beating Miller on the short side.
Marchand added his second of the night when Bergeron found him with a cross-ice pass from 35 feet out. He wristed a shot over Miller to give Boston the lead.
Buffalo was able to knot the game at two with Foligno’s goal with 2:49 remaining in the second. Standing near the goal line to Johnson’s right, he knocked in an attempt by Jamie McBain for his fifth goal of the season. Foligno has scored in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
“I think we were fortunate in the second to tie it up. I don’t think it was a very good period for us,” Myers said. “But we stayed resilient and the way we came out in the third’s exactly what we want to do. Coming into the final period at home in a tie game, it was a big character win for us and we just need to make sure we stay consistent with our play.”
Foligno also assisted on Myers’ goal, so with that, his goal and a fight against Matt Fraser in the first period, he picked up the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
“It’s rare, but at the same time, it just starts with hard work,” Foligno said. “That’s what this team needs from me. It was obviously good to get going in the first and then obviously with two points to help contribute offensively too. It’s just something in my game that now is the time for me to kind of forget this game and just be consistent now. Next game, they’re going to be a lot better than tonight.”
Sabres center Cody Hodgson left the game with 5:40 to play in the first period and did not return. He sustained an upper-body injury while blocking a shot on his final shift. Nolan said he could be out “a little while” but was awaiting an update from team doctors.
Sabres interim coach Ted Nolan relied on Flynn to take on some more ice time as a result of Hodgson’s absence.
“One thing about [Flynn], he has a real quiet demeanor about him. Sometimes you don’t even know he’s out in practice unless you just watch him, he’s so quiet. But he was sure loud tonight the way he played,” Nolan said. “We’re in a hard-working city and they want to see hard-working guys. [Flynn’s] one of those guys that just goes about his business and it was nice to see him get rewarded for it.”
During the game, the Sabres announced that they had acquired forward Linus Omark from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Omark, a fourth-round pick by Edmonton in 2007, spent the past three seasons in the Oilers organization. He has played in 66 NHL games, tallying 30 points (8+22). He’s spent this season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League, where he leads the team in scoring with 14 goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He is currently tied for fourth-most points in the AHL.
He signed a one-year contract in August.
Nolan said after the game that it’s possible that Omark could be with the team when they play the Bruins again Saturday night in Boston.
With the rematch next on the schedule, the Sabres know they’ll be in for a good fight.
“That game’s going to be even tougher in Boston,” Myers said. “They’re going to want to play well for their crowd so we’re going to have to step it up a notch over there.”