To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9.0.115 or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.
By Joe Haggerty
BUFFALO – Each time it appeared the Bruins would pull away on a snowy night in Buffalo, the Sabres kept pulling them back in.
Twice the Bruins scored goals to take the lead over the Sabres at the HSBC Arena, and twice they almost immediately ushered Buffalo back into the game with momentum-stifling goals.
Then it became the Drew Stafford Show when he finished off a natural hat trick in the third period to author Buffalo’s 3-2 victory over the Bruins – certainly not the way Boston wanted to kick off a big week of Eastern Conference matchups through the next five days.
Boston got on the board in the first off a hard-working shift by David Krejci. The B's playmaker worked to keep the puck in the attack zone behind the Buffalo net, then went right to the net as Dennis Seidenberg wound up for a shot.
Seidenberg fired a puck in the area of the slot and Krejci directed it past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller for his fifth of the season.
The Sabres jumped right back, though, on a borderline boarding call on Milan Lucic that opened the door for Stafford's first strike.
When Lucic didn’t get the same call in the third period on a similar play as he was crushed by Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers without the puck, he let referee Dan O’Rourke know his displeasure and was slapped with a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct that left the team down a man.
Lucic was upset about the non-call, and then he was still hot after the game that O'Rourke hurt the Bruins with a two-minute minor rather than slapping Lucic with a 10-minute misconduct for his verbal harpooning.
"C'mon, if you're going to call something and then come over and explain it to me, then you've got to stay consistent," said Lucic. "I just don't get it. Just for calling a ref a 'joke' and saying he was 'embarrassing.' You can’t put us down a man.
"If anything, at least give us a 10 [minute misconduct]. You can't put us down a man. Give me a ten. You can't put us down a man in a situation like that. I don't know what he was thinking."
Stafford’s rebound tally during Lucic's first penalty was the culmination of five straight cracks at the Boston net when the B's defense couldn't clear the puck from the front of Tuukka Rask's crease.
After a scoreless second period, Michael Ryder stick-handled in behind the Buffalo defense for a nice 1-on-1 goal that beat Miller to give Boston a 2-1 lead.
But Stafford and the Sabres fired right back when Boston's energy line had a rare breakdown and turnover in the neutral zone.
It looked like Brad Marchand might have had a go-ahead score in the third, but it was waved off when both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell made contact with Miller outside of his crease. Thornton was called for goaltender interference, and that set things up for Buffalo's power play and Stafford's third goal of the night.
Patrice Bergeron nearly scored when he hit the side of the net in a last-minute rush by the B's, but the game ended in a pushing-and-shoving match that featured Zdeno Chara and Paul Gaustad throwing punches at each other.
GOLD STAR: Bruins rookie Steve Kampfer played 20:19 of ice time, was working the point on the power play and picked up his first career NHL point while assisting on Michael Ryder's third-period goal. It appears that Kampfer is quickly establishing himself as something that the Bruins desperately need: A puck-moving defenseman with some ability to quarterback the power play. It’s only three games in, but Kampfer has handled everything that’s been thrown at him. Give Buffalo's Derek Roy and Drew Stafford credit for electrifying the Sabres attack tonight as well.
BLACK EYE: Where to begin: Milan Lucic taking an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty in the closing moments of the third period; Shawn Thornton’s turnover that led to Buffalo’s second goal; Johnny Boychuk getting caught watching on the aforementioned second goal; Marc Savard cracking the stat sheet with two giveaways and a minor penalty in 15:14 of ice time; the power play's inability to set something up and truly get some quality offense going. A lot of players had bad nights in Buffalo after their plane had to land in Niagara Falls yesterday following the snow-forced shutdown of Buffalo airport.
TURNING POINT: A Thornton turnover led to Stafford's game-tying goal in the third period just 32 seconds after Boston had taken the lead, and that was the beginning of the end for the B's. The final blow was Thornton's goaltender interference call after he claimed he was pushed into Ryan Miller while the Buffalo goalie was way outside of the crease – a penalty that led directly to Stafford's power play game-winner for the Sabres.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1600 – the number of games that Bruins winger Mark Recchi has played in his NHL career after suiting up against the Sabres on Wednesday night. Recchi was asked between the second and third period by 98.5 The Sports Hub's Dave Goucher what it meant to him, and Recchi replied: "It means that I'm getting really old."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "C'mon, if you're going to call something and then come over and explain [the penalty] to me, then you've got to stay consistent. I just don't get it. Just for calling a ref a 'joke' and saying he was 'embarrassing.' You can't put us down a man. If anything, at least give us a 10 [minute misconduct]. You can't put us down a man. Give me a ten. You can't put us down a man in a situation like that. I don't know what he was thinking." –Milan Lucic, who was upset that he was called for boarding on Paul Gaustad in the first period and then the victim of the non-call when he was crunched by Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers in the third. That led to an animated chat with referee Dan O’Rourke and a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct for Lucic in the closing moments of the third period.Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres