Gaustad: 'I give credit to Milan for fighting'

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Gaustad: 'I give credit to Milan for fighting'

BUFFALO The unwritten but widely understood hockey code is an interesting thing, and it saw a pair of players observing it in the opening period of the Bruins shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres.

The Bruins captured the 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo at the First Niagara Center, but the game result seemingly took a backseat to the question of what exactly the Sabres were going to do to avenge Milan Lucic for colliding with Ryan Miller in their last meeting.

The Sabres were widely panned for their lack of action in the moments following the LucicMiller incident and Sabres center Paul Gaustad was in the middle of the firestorm, given that he was actually on the ice when it took place.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound center took himself to task for not better supporting his goalie at the time, and clearly was setting the stage to right a wrong with the Bruins in their backyard. That much seemed obvious when Lucic hopped over the boards for his first shift in the first period to a strong chorus of boos, and Sabres coach Lindy Ruff followed by putting Gaustads line right on the ice.

Gaustad, a normal center by position, was even fanned out to a wing position by his Sabres teammates so he could stand toe-to-toe with Lucic. The Bs power forward had additionally made waves following the incident when he openly spoke of how a non-reaction like Buffalo would never happen with their goaltender.

Gaustad challenged Lucic on the left wings first shift, and the Bs power forward obliged, knowing he was supposed to given the hockey code of ethics.

"It was an unfortunate incident in Boston, and I give credit to Milan for fighting," Gaustad said. "It's something where guys don't have to, and he did. I wanted to step up after I thought I could have done more in the (earlier) Boston game."

For Lucics part, he understood no matter what happened with Miller and withstanding any concussions or crazy suspension talk that it was his responsibility to drop the gloves and fight any Sabres that came calling. Gaustad did and Lucic pummeled him with a series of overhand right handed punches before the fight was called with Gaustad getting his face driven into the frozen sheet.

I had some idea something like that was going to happen, said Tim Thomas, referring to Gaustad tangling with Lucic. Then it was kind of back to business. I just feel bad for anybody that has to face Looch because hes an animal.

It was Lucics first fighting major of the season, and the B's power forward was fine with standing up for his actions.

Collision or not and accidental or not, to this day Ill still say it was a collision, said Lucic. When you do something like that youre always prepared to have to step up and fight for yourself. Its great to see that guys arent being stupid and going out of their way.

We had the same situation with Marc Savard and Matt Cooke, and nothing more came out of it than the fight with Thornton and Cooke. Just like tonight nothing more came out of it than a fight in the first shift. I read earlier today people around the league saying what are we going back to line brawls and bench-clearing brawls? It goes to show that isnt the case at all.

Once Lucic and Gaustad had handled their business minutes into the first period, it was then onto the game of hockey for an entertaining playoff-style battle on the ice that ended with the Bruins victorious on the fight card and the scorecard.

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

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

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Boston goalie Tuuka Rask has been hard to beat this season and was at his best against Buffalo again.

"You start thinking, `how are we going to get one by this guy,'" Sabres coach Dan Bylsma wondered aloud Saturday.

Rask nearly shut out the Sabres for the second time in a month, keeping them off the scoresheet for 2 1/2 periods and making 17 of his career-high 35 saves in the third to help the Bruins hold on for a 2-1 win.

"Every team likes to have these kind of goaltenders and a lot of teams do," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We're just fortunate enough that he's been one of those guys that, whenever you slip a little bit, or lose a little bit of momentum, or you're having a slow start, or a tough night, those guys step up and help you win some hockey games."

Over his last 11 starts, beginning with his 4-0 shutout over Buffalo on Nov. 7, Rask is 7-3-1 with a 1.36 goals-against average and a .947 save percentage.

"I feel good," Rask said. "I'm seeing the puck well. Guys are doing a great job keeping them on the outside and clearing the rebounds for the most part, so that helps out."

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

"We're getting better as a team, we're getting points and climbing up the standings," said Krejci, who has 10 points in his last 12 games. "Hopefully we can keep it up."

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.

"First two periods, we had a tough time generating some offensive chances," Sabres defenseman Cody Franson said. "They kind of just stayed on top."

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 7:44 of the third when he knocked in the rebound of David Pastrnak's 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 flip 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. Julien said Beleskey will be evaluated when the team returns to Boston. ... 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. ... Buffalo had just three shots on goal in the first period.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Florida on Monday.

Sabres: At Washington on Monday.