BUFFALO Here are five thoughts from the first period of the Bruins and Sabres with both teams locked in a scoreless tie after the first 20 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.
1) A couple of good stops by Tuukka Rask in the first period particularly on a Derek Roy tipped puck right in front of the net in the first minute of action. You had to expect that Rask would be motivated after getting humbled here his last time in Buff, and hes been good. A much tighter hockey game as well with both teams doing a good job clogging up the neutral zone, but it appears that whatever work Rask has been doing with goalie coach Bob Essensa is helping.
2) A shot on net and a perfect five-for-five in the face-off circle while David Krejci is playing right wing for the Bruins. Hes put together another solid period after an encouraging performance against the Blues, but a little actual offensive production looks like something the Bs will need tonight.
3) Bruins defensemen looking a little slow on their skates tonight. Thomas Vanek blew right on by Adam McQuaid but missed the net with a shot, and Tyler Ennis looked like he went through Zdeno Charas legs while attacking the left post. But Tuukka Rask was able to hold the post and keep it scoreless.
4) Corey Tropp with three shots on goal playing in place of Brad Boyes. I think hes already matched Boyes production over the last two weeks.
5) Mike Knuble a health scratch again against the Montreal Canadiens and apparently not too happy about it. Its time for the Washington Capitals to do the right thing and trade the classy veteran. No way to treat a guy like Knuble unless theyre planning to deal him.
BUFFALO Here are five thoughts from the second period of the Bruins and Sabres with the Bs trailing Buffalo by a 1-0 score after the first 40 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.
1) Another tired-looking performance by the Bruins following an encouraging one. No emotion, small pockets of physicality around large pockets of labored skating and little sustained traffic around Ryan Miller. There is still 20 minutes to go, but weve seen this Bruins team quite a bit lately.
2) Joe Corvo was decent two nights ago in St. Louis, but hes been bad tonight against the Sabres. Incredibly passive and afraid to shoot from the point on the power play and way off with his transition passing while breaking out of the defensive zone. There have been way too many of these games from Corvo this season. The defensive shortcomings are forgivable, but the offensive deficiencies are mystifying.
3) Ryan Miller brought the good stuff again tonight. Eighteen saves including a shoulder shrug stop when Tyler Seguin had a chance all alone after stealing the puck inside the blue line. Hes flowing with confidence when hes making stops like that on shots roofed to his glove side.
4) Huge swing in momentum when the Bruins fanned on their first power play attempt without a single shot, and the Sabres stormed right back down with an Andrej Sekera goal at the other end. Two power plays with nothing to show for it really isnt a good look for the Black and Gold.
5) Chris Kelly leads Bruins with four shots on net and has been active tonight. One of the most energetic players for the Bruins. They need more playing like him the final 20 minutes.
BUFFALO Here are five thoughts from the third period of the Bruins and Sabres with the Bs and Buffalo tied at a 1-1 score and headed to overtime after the first 60 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.
1) Great energy from the fourth line in the third period. They earned the power play that helped set up Zdeno Charas game-tying goal. Did their jobs in the energy department at most important juncture of game. Six shots on net for them as a unit.
2) Johnny Boychuk covering for Zdeno Chara when hes caught up ice and diving face-first to block a Jordan Leopold shot from the slot to open the third period. The people criticizing his new contract extension should watch plays like that. Boychuk is fearless and wants to win. The Bruins need players like that.
3) Tuukka Rask with encouraging signs throughout the game. Twenty-two saves and many of them in high-traffic situations with plenty of bodies around the net. It was his best game in over a month and finally gets the Finn back on the right track.
4) Six shots on net for Chris Kelly and plenty of blue collar scoring chances around the net. The Bruins are beginning to rouse up those competitive juices and its obvious in some of the individual performances.
5) Give the Sabres credit, they started playing the proper way in the second half of the season. But it was way, way too late to try to get back into the hunt for a playoff spot.