If the Buffalo Sabres were looking to make a statement against the Boston Bruins, then six goals and three fighting majors were a good place to start.
In their most complete performance of the season, the Sabres thoroughly dominated the Northeast Division leaders by a score of 6-0 before 18,690 at the First Niagara Center. Jason Pominville paced the Buffalo attack with a pair of goals, and Ryan Miller turned away all 36 Boston shots he faced – including 17 in the third period – to pick up his third shutout of the season and second in the past week.
“That was the most fun I’ve had all year,” said Ville Leino, who assisted on both of Pominville’s goals for his second multi-point game of the season. “Since the break, we’ve been playing a lot more fun and making plays. You can’t win nowadays if you don’t make plays, have fun out there. It’s awful tough. We were having fun and making plays. It was a nice day.”
The Sabres are now 4-0-1 in their past five games, their longest point streak since ending last season on a 5-0-1 run. They also extended their home point streak to 5-0-5, their longest streak since going 9-0-3 from Dec. 9/09 to Jan. 29/10. Buffalo hasn’t lost a home game in regulation since December 10. It was also Buffalo’s largest margin of victory this season, and just the second time they’ve scored six goals in a game.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, just two days removed from breaking three ribs when he collided with Jordan Leopold during practice, watched the game from the press box. Even though he remained in communication with the coaching staff via headset all game long, he credited them with being prepared in a very unique situation.
“James (Patrick) did a great job of taking the bull by the horns,” explained Ruff. “I said, ‘It’s your bench to run. I’m going to say what I see system-wise, but I’m not giving you any advice on who to play or how to play. It’s all yours.’ I thought Kevyn (Adams) did a great job with the defensemen. Teppo (Numminen) got a real good look at what it’s like to be behind there. He couldn’t believe the intensity compared to sitting in the press box. I thought the coaches did a hell of a job. You’ve got to give those three guys a lot of credit.”
Patrick Kaleta scored a goal and picked up 17 penalty minutes, five of which were earned in a spirited first period bout with Boston heavyweight Milan Lucic. He knew how important it was for the entire team to stand up to the Bruins after what has transpired in their two previous meetings.
“It’s huge. It shows we’re ready to play and we’re not going to get pushed over,” said Kaleta. “The past little while, our mentality has been going in there and getting the battles done and going out and competing. I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”
Miller was quick to recognize the physical effort of Kaleta and the entire team.
“He took on a very big man and I thought he did rather well. All of our guys who had to step and fight did a great job. They're a team that wants to kind of intimidate you and push you around. It just goes to show if you hang in there and play good hockey, that stuff really doesn't matter.”
1-0 BUF: Ehrhoff's wrist shot from the left point beats a screened Rask over his left shoulder. (6:23) ... 2-0 BUF: Pominville sneaks in the backdoor to backhand Leino's spinorama pass into the open net (14:49) ... Shots: BOS-12, BUF-9
3-0 BUF: Ennis unloads a backhand from the faceoff dot that hits the post and banks in off Rask (1:52); Thomas replaces Rask, who allows three goals on 10 shots ... 4-0 BUF: Kaleta's shot from below the faceoff dot deflects off McQuaid's skate and goes between Thomas' legs (18:11) ... Shots: BUF-11, BOS-6
5-0 BUF: Pominville takes the pass from Leino, kicks the puck to his stick and bangs it home for his second of the night (1:18) … 6-0 BUF: Stafford taps home the Ennis pass in the crease after Thomas and Corvo misplay the puck behind the net. (18:58) …Shots: BOS-17, BUF-9
SABRES NOTES:Thomas Vanek (upper body) and Marc-Andre Gragnani (healthy) were Buffalo’s scratches. Vanek has now missed three games since being injured in Montreal on Jan. 31 … Gragnani has been a healthy scratch for the past four games.