BOSTON – It came down to one shot. And one call on the ice.
With 2:28 remaining in overtime, Rasmus Ristolainen was in a footrace with Brad Marchand, who was cutting in on a breakaway. As Ristolainen reached in, Marchand lifted the stick out Ristolainen's hands, the two became entangled as Ristolainen tried to defend and a penalty shot was called in Marchand's favor.
Marchard beat Robin Lehner with a backhand to propel the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 win Saturday night over the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden.
Earlier in the game, with 7:13 remaining in the third period, Sabres forward Jamie McGinn was tripped up by Dennis Seidenberg as he went in on goal. The call on that play was a tripping minor and Buffalo wasn't able to convert on the power play.
The Sabres expressed their frustration with the way the game ended.
"It was a hell of a game. It was supposed to go to a shootout – it was going to go to a real shootout," Lehner said. "It's just inconsistent. In a game like that, you don't call it and that's what he did when there was just a few minutes left.
"McGinn, when he was going down, he didn't call it and that was a penalty shot. That's 100 percent a penalty shot. He was far behind and he tripped him. Marchand was barely ahead of him and he just lays down and it's a penalty shot. It's embarrassing."
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma also disagreed with the call.
"Rasmus is right there with him and the judgment of the referee awards a penalty shot. I'm not sure I see it the same way," he said.
"…The one on McGinn, there is separation from McGinn and Seidenberg. He clearly dives and goes down to break up the play, which he wasn't able to do. He took the feet out. You'd like consistency. That wasn't a penalty shot then I'm not sure the other one was either."
Ristolainen initially turned the puck over to spring Marchand and felt he never should have put himself in a position to be called for a penalty.
" You've got to be careful with the puck. That's what happened today: I wasn't careful and they scored the goal," he said. "It's a bad play by me. They got a penalty shot and scored a goal."
DONE WITH BOSTON
The Sabres and Bruins wrapped up their season series with a home-and-home set that began Thursday night in Buffalo. The Bruins rallied to win that game 3-2 in a shootout. Saturday's contest was a back-and-forth affair that saw Lehner make 36 saves to Tuukka Rask's 37.
"It was a pretty hard-fought, even game going both ways and I like the way our team battled," Bylsma said. "But you're coming up short at the end and we can't afford to do that."
While the Sabres were able to come away with two points in these last two games, they would much rather have two victories.
"It was a quick turnaround again and it's not an easy team to play against once let alone two times," Sam Reinhart said. "We were right there until the end. Unfortunately we weren't able to find a way to win."
The Sabres finish the regular season with a 1-1-2 record against Boston.
THE EARLIER GOALS
Boston took a 1-0 lead with 7:38 left in the first period when Cody Franson's outlet pass was deflected by David Pastrnak and intercepted by David Krejci. With the puck in tow, Krejci passed it over to Pastrnak on the left wing, who then slap-passed it cross-ice to Loui Eriksson on the doorstep. Eriksson was able to put it home into a gaping net.
Lehner was strong in net for the Sabres, coming up big particularly in the second period. In one sequence, he stopped Pastrnak with the paddle of his stick on a wraparound. Two-and-a-half minutes after the save on Pastrnak, Reinhart tied the game.
Buffalo was able to keep the puck in and maintain pressure, leading up to Reinhart's goal. From the left-wing corner, Ryan O'Reilly fed Jamie McGinn in the slot. McGinn's one-timer was kicked aside by Rask, but it went to Reinhart, who skated around from behind the net to pick it up and lift a backhand in from down low.
"Reils made a nice play to Ginner, creating space for himself," Reinhart explained. "With those two being so smart, I just tried to put myself in the right spots and the puck found me there on the side of the net."
Scored with 9:07 to go in the second, it was Reinhart's 14th of the season. The rookie is on pace to score 22.
WELCOME TO THE BIG LEAGUES
Daniel Catenacci made his NHL debut Saturday night. With Marcus Foligno out day-to-day with a lower-body injury, the Sabres turned to the third-year pro, who was riding a five-game point streak in the American Hockey League.
Catenacci recorded two shots on goal in 7:42 of ice time.
The Sabres return home to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday. The Tops Gamenight pregame show starts at 6:30 p.m. on MSG-B and Bell TV with puck drop slated for 7 p.m. The game can also be heard live on WGR 550.