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With all that’s going on off the ice in Bruinsland, it was hard to bring our focus back to the on-ice affairs of the team. Last night, the team’s focus seemed to be elsewhere also, as the B’s fell to the surging Buffalo Sabres, 4-3 in overtime, at the TD Garden.
The B’s jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage on goals from Nathan Horton and Mark Recchi. 27 seconds after Recchi’s second period goal, Buffalo cut that lead in half, with Tyler Ennis lifting the puck over a sprawled out Tim Thomas to get the Sabres on the board. Later in the second, it was Thomas Vanek, the team’s leading scorer, who knotted the game at two goals a piece, scoring on a feed from Ennis on the power play, to take the game into the second intermission, tied at two.
Embattled team captain Zdeno Chara earn his second assist of the evening early in the third, adding a helper on Gregory Campbell’s 10th goal of the season to give the B’s another lead. That advantage was short-lived though, as the Sabres cashed in on a 5-on-3 opportunity with a goal from Tim Connolly.
The game ended regulation time even at three goals each, but ended less than four minutes into overtime, when a pair of ex-Boston area hockey players delivered a win for Buffalo. Ex-Boston College Eagle standout Nathan Gerbe put the puck on net and ex-Boston Bruin Brad Boyes tipped home the rebound past Thomas to earn Buffalo two much-needed points to add to their playoff hopes.
For Boston, the B’s dropped their third straight decision after winning seven in a row. The point they do get for taking the game to overtime, coupled with Montreal’s 4-1 loss to St. Louis, extends Boston’s division lead to four points. The B’s now sit in third place in the Conference however, one point behind the red-hot Capitals.
With the two-point win for the Sabres, Buffalo now sits in a tie for seventh place in the East, knotted at 74 points a piece with the Rangers. Buffalo has two games in hand over New York, and faces them Saturday to wrap up their season-long seven-game road trip.
Boston hits the road again themselves, this time for a four-gamer that begins Friday on Long Island when they take on the New York Islanders. From there, next week’s schedule includes stops in Columbus, Nashville, and Toronto. All very winnable games, from my view.