Rookie defenseman Nikita Zadorov was happy to score his first NHL goal, but another loss by the Buffalo Sabres put a bit of a damper on the postgame celebration.
The Sabres clawed their way back into their game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at First Niagara Center, but ultimately fell short yet again.
Torey Krug scored twice in the third to give the Bruins a 5-2 victory. Milan Lucic also recorded a pair of goals and defenseman Dougie Hamilton chipped in one as well. Chad Johnson made 14 saves in his Bruins debut.
“They’ve got a strong team over there from their D all the way up to their forwards and we didn’t match them,” Sabres co-captain Steve Ott said. “Simple as that. A veteran-based team just took over the game and kind of steamrolled us in the third.”
The goal by Zadorov, which cut Boston’s lead to 3-2 with 4:50 remaining in the second period, was the first of his NHL career. It came in his second game on his first career shot. At 18 years, 6 months and eight days, he became the second-youngest Sabre to score. Only Pierre Turgeon at 18 years, 1 month, 24 days was younger when he scored his first career goal with the Sabres.
The Bruins’ first two goals were scored by Lucic. The first game with 8:59 remaining in the first and the second came 0:40 into the second to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Hodgson’s power-play goal made it 2-1 at the 8:29 mark of the second, but the Bruins came right back 3:29 later as Hamilton scored on a 2-on-1.
Bruins forward Loui Eriksson left the game 5:49 into the third period after being hit by Sabres forward John Scott. As the play went back down the ice into the Buffalo zone, he dropped the gloves with Andy McQuaid in the corner. Scott received a charging major and a fighting major as a result.
“I’m not going to comment on it,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said after the game.
The Sabres managed only two shots on goal in the third period, the second one coming with 2:34 remaining in regulation. Even with that lack of offensive production, Miller felt responsible for Krug’s pair in the third that put the game out of reach.
“I think we could’ve had a little more to say in that third period. I need to come up with some saves for the guys,” he said. “The [last] two goals aren’t very good. It’s about the most disappointed I’ve been in myself all year. So 3-2 at home, you have to give guys an opportunity and two goals go through me, so that’s not going to get it done.”
For Zadorov, while he was upset that his team lost, he did have the chance to live out a life-long dream of scoring in the NHL. He said that he hasn’t been nervous through two professional games.
“I’m not afraid to play hockey because I’ve played hockey all my life,” he said. “I’m real happy here now because I play with all these guys and we just have to keep working together and do our jobs and play hockey.”
Rolston was impressed with Zadorov’s play and played him for 17:44, a big jump from the 11:01 he played in his debut on Saturday. The Sabres have the option of returning him to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League before he plays in his 10th game.
“Our young guys have been real good, been really good. And it was a nice goal, a nice play. He played well again so I like the game our young guys are playing right now,” Rolston said. “…He’s playing. He’s playing well. He’s one of our better guys back there.”