Talking Points: Sabres 2, Bruins 1

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Talking Points: Sabres 2, Bruins 1

BUFFALO The Bruins didnt have their best legs or their best brand of hockey in Buffalo, but its results that matter most this time of year.

So somehow the Bruins overcame a lackluster first 40 minutes to get a point in a 2-1 grudge match shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center, and continued making steps in the right direction.

David Krejcis opening bid trickled through Ryan Millers pads, but both Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy scored for the Sabres on Rask to make the difference in the shootout.

A Zdeno Chara bomb just outside the right face-off circle steamed over Ryan Millers left shoulder to tie the proceedings up at a 1-1 score and kick-started another strong third period effort for the Bs.

It was sweet justice for the Bs captain, who had been denied on a first period shot that dinged off the crossbar after it had beaten Miller.

The Sabres had seized control of the game in the second period when Buffalo held the Bruins without a shot on their first power play of the game, and then poured on the pressure immediately afterward. Tyler Ennis fed a trailing Andrej Sekera from behind the net, and the Sabres defenseman smoked one past Tuukka Rask to open the scoring.

The two teams battled through a scoreless overtime before deciding things in the shootout for the second time this season.

GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask finished with 26 saves and seemed to finally find himself despite extending his personal losing streak to six games. The Finnish netminder had worked with goalie coach Bob Essensa on his technique over the last few days and the 24-year-old Rask appeared much more comfortable between the pipes. He had a solid stop on Derek Roy in the opening minute of the game, and then stopped Roy again late in the third to force overtime. Rask got a piece of both successful shootout bids by Thomas Vanek and Roy, but couldnt contain them. It wasnt perfect, but it was an excellent first step.

HONORABLE MENTION: Johnny Boychuk didnt factor into the scoring, but he played a heavy 21:47 for the Bruins while pushing the game to overtime. It was Boychuk who helped foster the sense of urgency in the final period by flopping down face-first to block a Jordan Leopold shot from the high slot area during a scrambling moment in the opening minute. He blocked that single shot, tossed out three hits and fired off four shots in an active, physical evening for the Bs that doesnt show up on the stat sheet.

BLACK EYE: No shots on net and no hits for Brad Marchand in 19:31 of ice time and he danced perilously close to earning his team a penalty in the closing moments of the third period while tangling with Paul Gaustad and Mike Weber. The scrum ended with both Weber and Marchand attempting to raise their sticks up between the other players legs. So uncouth. Marchand was also booed every time he touched the puck by the Buffalo faithful after making the nightly news for calling their fair city the worst city in the NHL during a radio interview with WEEI.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins were down 1-0 headed into the third period and hadnt shown close to enough urgency with every game gaining in importance down the regular season stretch. But they out-shot the Sabres by a 15-5 margin in the final 20 minutes, tied the game on a Zdeno Chara bomb and guaranteed themselves a point for the second straight game. It isnt exactly winning streak, but its the beginning stages of the Bs rounding back into form.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4-2-3 the Bruins record in the first end of back-to-back games this season with a Saturday night tilt in Ottawa against the Senators on the schedule.

QUOTE TO NOTE: It was a good battle. The shootouts can go either way. I just tried to be more patient and not go down too early. I did a pretty job of that except for the Sekera goal. It was a good step ahead for me. Hopefully I can keep it up. Tuukka Rask, who lost his sixth game in a row but put forth his best effort in more than a month in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals didn't exactly end their overtime victory with a raucous celebration.

No, instead Washington held a players-only meeting, still salty over blowing a three-goal lead.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 to avert a disastrous defeat Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3-3.

Backstrom saved the day, but not the Capitals from feeling uneasy.

"In the second and third period they outplayed," Backstrom said. "We were lucky that we came up with two points. We're not satisfied at all. We're happy with the two points, but not the way we played."

The locker room remained closed for approximately 15 minutes after the win, Washington's second in a row after losing three straight.

"We had a little talking here," said T.J. Oshie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18. "There are some things we've got to clean up. I think it's more of a mentality more than it is the systems or anything like that. ... Once we get a step up on someone, we have to get that mentality that we're going to finish them off."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night. The Bruins outshot Washington 34-20.

"Hell of an effort. We got a big point for us. To comeback from 3-0 against Washington, it's not that easy," Pastrnak said. "Too bad we couldn't get the two points, but in this case the one point is huge for us."

Backstrom patiently waited on the right side before firing the winner past goaltender Tuukka Rask, who entered second in the league with a 1.68 goals-against average. Rask allowed three goals in his previous outing, too.

Williams had two goals over the first 24 games this season, but he matched that total less than eight minutes in against the Bruins. He redirected Kuznetsov's lofted centering pass past Rask for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the first period.

"To be honest it's nice to see the puck go in the net," Williams said. "I've been pressing and working hard. Hopefully this can springboard me to some more production."

Matt Niskanen left with an upper-body injury and did not return. With the Caps down a defenseman, Boston outshot Washington 11-2 in the second period.

"In the second period, we just sort of sat back," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "It's hard to protect leads in the league."

The Capitals' second goal also occurred in front of the net. Williams emerged from a scramble with a shot that slithered under Rask.

NOTES: With his 673rd career win, Trotz passed Mike Keenan (672) for eighth place on the NHL's career wins list. ... Williams' first goal was the fastest for Washington since 2012. ... Boston assigned F Noel Acciari to the Providence Bruins two days after the 24-year forward returned to practice. Acciari injured his right leg on Nov. 7. ... Holtby improved to 10-2 career against the Bruins. His first career win came in relief against Boston in November 2010. ... The three-game season series resumes Feb. 1 in Washington.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.