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Thomas Vanek scored three goals (6) and added two assists (9) to lead the way for the Buffalo Sabres in their 7-4 victory and handing the Boston Bruins their first regulation loss of the season.
Buffalo net minder Ryan Miller (3-2-1) had 38 saves in the win. Vanek set up the game winning goal by Cody Hodgson (4) and added his hat trick goal with under two minutes to play as insurance over the division rival. Vanek continued his great play against the Bruins, improving his career totals to 54 points in 46 games against the Black and Gold.
After a scoreless first period, the second period featured great end-to-end action with both teams adding three goals of their own including pairs from Vanek and Brad Marchand (5). Marchand’s fourth and fifth goals of the season came off the stick of Patrice Bergeron (4) including a great move by Marchand to maneuver around the 6’8 Tyler Myers and beat Miller backhand. Rich Peverley (1) rang one off the post and in for his first goal of the season to put the Bruins on the board.
In the third period, David Krejci extended his five-game point streak (2 goals 4 assists) with a goal (2) on a nice curl and drag move just two minutes into the period. The goal gave the Bruins a very short-lived lead when Alexander Sulzer scored his first goal of the season 43 seconds later. Hodgson scored the game winner four minutes later and the Sabres didn’t look back from there. Vanek added his third on a two on none breakaway after Peverley broke his stick and Jason Pominville (5) added an empty netter.
Tuukka Rask (4-1-1) played better in net than the 6 goals allowed show. He made 25 saves in the loss, while at least three of the goals allowed could be blamed on breakdowns on defense. The Bruins line of Bergeron-Seguin-Marchand was their best line of the night, playing well in all three zones and attacking on the forecheck. But it wasn’t enough as the Sabres line of Vanek-Hodgson-Pominville out did them.
Injury Notes: Shawn Thornton left the game early in the first period after a fight with John Scott. Scott landed at least five good punches to the head and neck of Thornton. He did not return to the game. Patrice Bergeron also left the game momentarily in the third period after being spun into the boards head/shoulder first after a breakaway. He went back to the locker room holding his left shoulder but did return to finish the game.
The Bruins return to action Saturday night against another division opponent in the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre at 7:00 PM.