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It – it being a power play goal – was bound to happen sooner or later. Fortunately for the Boston Bruins (7-7-2) and their league-worst power play unit, it came before history was made.
After going six games with out a power play goal (0-for-20), the B’s avoided a seven-game power play drought, which would have been their first since 2003, went 2-for-3 on the PP, and earned a 4-2 victory over the Northeast Division-leading Buffalo Sabres (9-4-1).
Mark Recchi opened the scoring and ended the power play misery 3:17 into the first period when he tipped Derek Morris’ wrist shot past Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth during Boston’s first man-advantage of the game. Following a fight between Shawn Thornton and former Bruin Steve Montador (with the unanimous decision for Thornton), Zdeno Chara made the score 2-0 when he scored his first goal of the season, which also came on the power play.
Just 1:22 after the first intermission, Byron Bitz gave the Bruins a 3-0 lead when he netted Steve Bégin’s feed following a turnover by Montador in the Sabres’ zone. However, Boston was unable to keep the door on Buffalo slammed shut, as they allowed Derek Roy to bat a bouncing puck past Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask, who recently signed an extension with the Bruins. Marco Sturm, playing along Patrice Bergeron and Recchi, regained the three-goal lead just before the end of the second with a beautiful one-timer that Enroth had no chance to stop.
The third period saw more fights than goals, as Thornton fought Paul Gaustad, Mark Stuart took on Jochen Hecht, and Chara mixed things up with Patrick Kaleta. The Sabres managed to make it 4-2 on a power play goal in the 18th minute, but were unable to score again, despite playing with an empty net for the final 1:40.
With the win, the Bruins move to third in the Northeast Division, now behind the Sabres and Ottawa Senators. Next up for the team is the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the TD Garden.
While the whole team, particularly the power play, performed exceedingly well in comparison to their performance of late, it would be an incredibly oversight to not exalt Zdeno Chara. With his first goal of the season and his seventh assist, Chara was an intricate part of the Bruins’ victory and helping to end the PP drought. An honorable mention goes to Steve Bégin, who notched two assists during his first stint as an alternate captain for the Bruins.
It’s just as difficult to single out a player for playing poorly when everyone was firing on all cylinders, but Brad Marchand spent more time in the penalty box (14:00) than he did on the ice (9:08). While that is not a difficult feat to accomplish when ten-minute game misconducts or fighting majors are considered, Marchand took two stupid penalties in the third period, which jeopardized the Bruins’ lead. Fortunately for Marchand, the penalty kill was in top form as they prevented the Sabres from converting on any of their seven power plays.
“Chara knows about hardware. He’s got the Norris Trophy. Kaletta’s version of hardware is nuts and bolts.” -NESN commentator Jack Edwards on the fight between Zdeno Chara and Patrick Kaletta in the third period.