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The Boston Bruins continued their red-hot play last night, beating Northeast division rival Buffalo 3-1 at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Chuck Kobasew returned to the lineup after missing 12 games with a broken leg, and looked as though he hadn’t missed a beat, notching a goal and assist in his first game back. Manny Fernandez also saw game action for the first time in a while, although his absence was not due to injury, but rather the stellar play of Tim Thomas. Starting his first game since October 25th, Fernandez likewise played a strong game, stopping 32 shots in the Bruins victory.
Early on, a Bruins win was anything but guaranteed, as the Sabres jumped to to an early 1-0 lead on the strength of a Tim Connolly goal 10:16 into the 1st period. The Bruins would tie it before the end of the first stanza however, as Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman scored his second goal in as many games with 2:24 remaining in the period. Stephane Yelle found Wideman at the point, and Wideman rifled a wrister passed a screened Ryan Miller.
The Bruins would grab the lead early on in the 2nd and never relinquish it, as Kobasew fired a wrist shot past Miller just 2:47 into the period. Marc Savard would cap the scoring later in the stanza, putting a shot past Miller off a Phil Kessel rebound 7:59 into the period.
Despite trailing 3-1 going into the 3rd, the Sabres failed to mount much of an attack, being out-shot by the Bruins 16-8 and relying on a few spectacular saves from Ryan Miller to keep them in the game. Fernandez denied Sabres center Jason Pominville late in the 3rd period, and the Buffalo failed to generate any more quality chances, as the Bruins went on to win their 3rd straight game and 6th in their last 7. Following a Montreal loss, Boston now finds itself tied atop the Northeast division with Buffalo, although the B’s hold the tie-breaker in head-to-head points.
Boston heads to Chicago Wednesday to take on the upstart Blackhawks. The puck drops at 8:30 p.m. EST, with NESN coverage beginning at 8:00 p.m.
Chuck Kobasew – The winger made his return to the lineup after missing 12 games, skating on the “4th line” with Shawn Thornton and Stephane Yelle. I use quotations because this team rolls four lines consistently, and Kobasew looked like he hadn’t missed a game, recording a goal and assist in 11:27 TOI.
Bruins Power Play – Hard to find fault with anything in this game, but the PP units went 0-3 in the game, so if there’s anything to gripe about, it’s that.