The Buffalo Sabres’ penalty kill was tested time and again Friday night, but no kill was bigger than one late in the third period.
With 23.5 seconds to play in regulation and the game tied, Thomas Vanek was called for high-sticking. The Sabres held off the Boston Bruins for the rest of the third period and overtime, skating to a 2-1 shootout victory at First Niagara Center. Derek Roy scored the winning shootout goal in the fourth round on a backhand that beat Tuukka Rask.
Ryan Miller made 35 saves in the winning effort and forced three Boston misses in the shootout as the Sabres won their third straight game.
“In overtime, we wanted to take it to them and we had a couple chances to finish them off,” Roy said.
The Bruins came on strong in the third period, creating more scoring opportunities and outshooting the Sabres 15-5. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff thought that although his team had some chances, they let up a little in the third and that helped Boston get back into the game.
“We got on our heels a little bit in the third and part of it had to do with penalties. But I thought we dug in,” Ruff said. “We blocked some shots, threw our bodies in front of a couple and I thought if we put in some of those rush chances, the two-on-ones, it wouldn’t have been that close but I thought we had the higher quality [chances]. We just didn’t take advantage of some key situations.”
The first goal of the game came with 5:15 to play in the second period courtesy of Andrej Sekera. After Ville Leino dumped the puck in, the puck cycled around to Tyler Ennis who threw the puck out to Sekera at the point. Leino created some traffic in front and Sekera’s shot beat Rask. The goal was Sekera’s first since Dec. 16 against Toronto and his first point since he registered two assists against the Bruins on Feb. 8.
“I saw the guy looking at Enzo and he wasn’t looking at me and I saw the hole there so I jumped in,” Sekera said. “As soon as I got the puck, I knew where I was going with it and it went in.”
The Bruins converted on their third power play opportunity of the night to tie the game. Christian Ehrhoff was called for delay of game after flipping the puck out over the glass behind the net. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara picked up a failed Derek Roy clearing effort and his shot from the blueline deflected off Miller and into the net. The goal ended Miller’s shutout streak against the Bruins at 109:51.
The Sabres killed off three-of-four penalties in the game with no opportunities of their own. Buffalo focused their efforts on stopping Chara.
“We thought we’d key in on Chara, make sure that we fronted him. That’s not an easy task when you have to tell your D, ‘Listen, you’ve got to block the one-timer that’s going about 105 [miles per hour].’ Those guys did a good job and we needed the extra point,” Ruff said.
Buffalo blocked 22 shots in the game. Jordan Leopold got in front of a game-high five and Tyler Myers and Mike Weber each blocked four apiece.
Ruff was able to give Roy a chance to redeem himself in the shootout, after the turnover that led to the Bruins goal.
“He had time and was one of those that lots of ice to get it down the ice, just didn’t get it elevated and right on Chara’s stick,” Ruff said. I just felt, in the shootout, it gave us a chance to get it back for us. It was great to see it go in, great to see him respond and get us that goal.”
The Sabres are right back at on Saturday night when they face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
No scoring. Buffalo had an early chance in the first minute of play when Derek Roy deflected a Thomas Vanek pass in the goal crease. The puck slid parallel along the goal line before being knocked away by Tuukka Rask… Boston’s best opportunity came halfway through the period when defenseman Zdeno Chara fired a rocket off the crossbar… Drew Stafford went to the dressing game midway through the first period but returned with 3:26 to play, registering a shot on goal.
1-0 BUF: From behind the net, Ennis finds Sekera at the right point, and the defenseman wristed in his third goal of the year (14:45).
1-1: On the power play, Chara converts a turnover into a goal as he beats Miller from the point (3:36).
SABRES NOTES: Corey Tropp was recalled from Rochester (AHL) before the game and replaced Brad Boyes in the lineup. Tropp skated 9:21 and registered three shots on goal… Boyes (undisclosed injury), Cody McCormick (upper body) and Marc-Andre Gragnani (healthy) were Buffalo’s scratches… Boyes was injured late in Tuesday’s win over the Islanders. He has skated on his own but has not participated in practice… McCormick has now missed six games since being injured against Dallas on February 10.