Not so coincidentally, those are the only two teams to have mustered any goals at Boston’s expense within the final 20 minutes of regulation.
An unanswered outburst of three strikes brought on Friday night’s second lead change in the Sabres’ favor and evoked memories of the Bruins’ only other pointless effort to date. The 4-2 upshot was only a mildly modified remake of a 7-4 falter that devolved from a 4-3 advantage in the final frame of a Jan. 31 bout with Buffalo.
In nine contests against teams other than the Sabres, the Bruins have rolled up a 12-1 scoring edge in the third period, the lone blunder coming this past Tuesday against the aforementioned Blueshirts. Buffalo, on the other hand, has outscored Boston 7-3 in that stage of the game over the course of three meetings.
On Friday, the Sabres charged up a three-goal differential for a third-period aggregate of 7-1 in a pair of victories. That drops the Bruins to 1-2-0 in the season series and 8-2-2 on the year.
Naturally, the lack of characteristic behavior in the put-away portion of the night is the topmost takeaway for the black and gold on this night. Here are a few more important ice chips from Friday’s aftermath.
Tellingly enough, the last and most decisive shift in momentum fell, in part, on the watch of linemates Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic. As penance for a stark modicum of defensive rigidity on their part, their ratings on the night each dropped to minus-two at the 2:03 mark when Tyler Myers drew a 2-2 knot on Buffalo’s behalf.
At that point, the Krejci line had been on the ice for seven of the Sabres’ first 13 even-strength shots on net. By the 5:16 mark, they had been in action for nine of the 18 stabs Anton Khudobin had faced during five-on-five play.
As it happened, Buffalo took only three more shots after that, and while Krejci and his wingers were in no way liable this time, two went through to stamp the 4-2 final.
In the 11th minute of the first period, third-line partners Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly were denied on successive shots as they tried to draw a 1-1 knot and notch their first or second respective goals of the season. Neither they nor the rest of the Bruins were daunted, though.
Late in Boston’s first power play and approaching the final two minutes of the opening frame, Dougie Hamilton approached the slot to slug home the equalizer. That cracked the zero in his personal goal column and cracked open a carbonated wave of conviction.
On the other side of the Zamboni flood, with 2:29 gone in the second stanza, Hamilton garnered the primary assist as Peverley connected on his third registered stab of the night.
That was the third of three unanswered shots on the fresh sheet by the Bruins. From there, they augmented the discrepancy to a 17-6 run in the second period shooting gallery. But Boston’s plus-points evaporated thereafter.
Between Hamilton’s conversion of their first five-on-four segment and their 17-shot firestorm in the middle frame, the Bruins had one of their better opportunities to make special teams a favorable decider Friday night. Yet they would only muster one more power play in the form of a Steve Ott interference infraction with 5:18 left until the second intermission.
Had they coaxed the Sabres into more penalty trouble earlier and more often, they could have jumped on the power-play engine while it had some traction. Instead, they failed to augment their lead and finished the night with one more shorthanded segment than Buffalo while letting the only man-up goal at either end go to waste.
Opposing winger Drew Stafford’s success at Boston’s expense has come in relative spurts. Take his two hat tricks two seasons ago for example.
With the first goal of the game (and his first of the season) as well as the primary assist on Christian Ehrhoff's eventual clincher, Stafford upped his career log to 11-12-23 in 35 confrontations with the Bruins.
Both the goal and the helper were directly or indirectly parented by a couple of Stafford’s five shots on net, which tied him with Patrice Bergeron to lead all participating skaters on the night.