Canucks win special teams battle

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Canucks win special teams battle

BOSTON -- The bottom line when it was all said and done for the Bruins: the Canucks are going to win a special teams battle against Boston nearly every single time.

The Bruins were whistled for 15 penalties and 55 minutes worth of infractions, and handed the Vancouver Canucks 11 power play chances in the 4-3 loss to Vancouver on home ice. The Canucks entered the Saturday matinee leading the NHL with a power play thats been successful 23.6 percent of the time, and its their bread and butter.

Draw penalties by any means necessary, get the Sedins and Co. on the man advantage and then rinse and repeat. A combination of undisciplined mistakes by a slightly overhyped Bruins team and some very questionable whistles from referees struggling to maintain control led to four power play goals for Vancouver.

The Canucks went 4-for-11 on the man advantage and the Bruins went 0-for-7, and that was the ballgame just as it was during the Cup Finals. Vancouver is searching for a special teams fiesta and thats what they found at TD Garden courtesy of Dan ORourke and Don VanMassenhoven raising their hands early and often.

Our job is not to assess or comment on referees. Im not stupid enough to stand up here and criticize them. What I can tell you is that Vancouver scored four power play goals, so we gave them an opportunity to score on their bread and butter, said Claude Julien. Instead of criticizing the referees, I would much prefer criticizing us for the penalties whether theyre worthy or not, take the responsibility.

We knew before the game started that they have a good power play, and I thought two of them, two of the goals they scored, were nice power play goals, and youve got to give them credit. The other two, I thought we could have done a better job on them.

It was apparently early on when the Canucks earned a 5-on-3 advantage out of their prison yard-style attack on Shawn Thornton that special teams would be a factor in the game. The Bruins nearly killed off that power play, but finally broke down when Sami Salo found Ryan Kesler open for a scorched one-timer.

Sure there was also an Alex Burrows power play tip off a Cory Hodgson shot courtesy of a Tyler Seguin tripping penalty in the second period, but the real backbreaker was Brad Marchands five minute major and game misconduct for clipping near the end of the second period.

The Canucks scored two goals during those next five minutes a Henrik Sedin tip from the high slot off an Alex Edler shot and a Hodgson sniper shot to start the third period and the Bruins simply werent able to come back. Kevin Bieksa tried to paint Marchands actions as the reason his squad was ultimately successful, and took a few shots at the Bs after it was all over.

We play hard, but we are a disciplined team. Thats what separates us from the Bruins. They obviously play hard, but they tend to do stupid things, said Bieksa. The Marchand hit was a pretty stupid thing and Im sure hell be getting a phone call for that one. There is no reason for that. But we made them pay for that. We got to score two goals on that power play and thats the game. Marchand has got to live with that.

It might have been a different story if the power play had been able to do some damage against the Cory Schneider and the Canucks, but sadly their PP performance was yet another flashback to last years Finals with an empty 0-for-7 showing.

Combine that with the loss of Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand to game misconducts by midway through the second period, and it wasnt exactly a banner evening for the Bs and their penalties.

We had some pretty big obstacles to overcome, and some of it was losing two real good players out of your lineup and having a short bench. That didnt help, but had we stayed out of the box -- and not given them the power plays that we gave them -- I really felt, five-on-five, we controlled the play, said Julien. Thats where our strength is, and unfortunately, when you give up four power play goals in a game, youve got to look at yourself and take the blame. Its as simple as that.

The Canucks won the special teams battle and this days war, and thats one thing that cant really be argued.

Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

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Rask stops 35 shots in Bruins' 2-1 win over Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Tuukka Rask made 35 saves to help the Bruins hold off the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Saturday

David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored to give Boston a 2-0 lead and the Bruins improved to 3-0-1 in their past four.

Evander Kane scored his first goal of the season for Buffalo. Robin Lehner returned after missing one game with a hip injury and made 32 saves.

The Sabres combined for nine goals in their previous two wins but the NHL's lowest-scoring team reverted to form from the first 21 games, when star center Jack Eichel was out of the lineup with a high-ankle sprain.

Krejci got the Bruins on the scoreboard with 5:50 left in the first when he deflected Brandon Carlo's slap shot from the point off the right post and into the net.

The Sabres appeared to tie the game late in the second period but replays determined Brian Gionta kicked the puck into the net.

Bergeron made it 2-0 at 7:10 of the second at 7:44 of the third when he knocked on the rebound of his own missed shot. Bergeron initially hit the puck with his forearm on the left edge of the crease and skated around the net to chase down the puck and slip a backhand past Lehner.

The Sabres answered two minutes later, scoring on Rask for the first time in 109:12 this season. Sam Reinhart's feed off the rear wall set up Kane for a wrist shot from the slot that bounced in off Krejci. Reinhart has five points in his last four games.

NOTES: Bruins F Matt Beleskey was escorted to the dressing room in the final minute of the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return. ... Sabres D Josh Gorges did not play after injuring his foot blocking a shot in Thursday's win over the New York Rangers. With Dmitry Kulikov (lower back) and Zach Bogosian (MCL sprain) also out, the Sabres were down three of their top four defenseman and recalled 19-year-old Brendan Guhle from the minors to make his NHL debut. Guhle hustled back to thwart a breakaway by Krejci late in the third period. ... F Anton Blidh became the seventh Bruin to make his NHL debut this season after being recalled from the minors on Friday. ... The Bruins scratched F Jimmy Hayes. D Zdeno Chara, the Bruins' captain, missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rask got a shutout in Boston's 4-0 win over Buffalo on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.

 

© 2016 by STATS and The Associated Press.