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.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.
 

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.