BUFFALO The Bruins were braced for an angry bunch of Sabres, and simply rode out the emotion en route to a great game plan.
The Sabres settled their scores in the first period, took a quick 2-0 lead on a pair of power play scored and then watched as the Bruins chipped away before eventually taking a 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo at the First Niagara Center.
Believe it or not, the Montreal Mystery Man Benoit Pouliot came away with the shootout winner in the fifth round of extra play.
Milan Lucic and Paul Gaustad tangled during their first face-off on the ice together, and Lucic pummeled a game Gaustad attempting to win back some respect after not fighting for his goaltender 11 days prior in Boston.
The power play strikes by Christian Ehrhoff and Tomas Vanek arrived while Zdeno Chara sat in the penalty box following a fight with Robyn Regehr, and his immense 6-foot-9 absence was missed on the penalty kill.
But the Bruins fought back in the second period with a Stamkos-esque one-timer from Tyler Seguin on the power play to halve the lead, and a great, hustling shift that made it a one-goal game headed into the third period. Marchand banged bodies with the much bigger Thomas Vanek in the center ice area, and then hustled into the offensive zone before roofing a rebound right in front of the net.
That led to the Chara power play goal in the third that tied up the game, and the eventual game winning shootout performance their third shootout win of the season.
The Bruins have three players headed to the IIHF Hockey World Championship, which begin this weekend in Russia.
Brad Marchand was invited to play for Team Canada early on in the process, coming off his 37-goal season for the Bruins. Last week the Czech Republic added 19-year-old right wing David Pastrnak to their squad with plans to skate on a line with the Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec.
And Frank Vatrano -- who scored a total of 44 goals between Boston and Providence in this, his first full professional season -- was added to the Team USA roster this week. Vatrano, 22, confirmed it on his own Twitter account on Tuesday night prior to hopping on a flight bound for Russia:
Torey Krug played for Team USA last season, but was unavailable this time around after undergoing right shoulder surgery just a couple of weeks ago that will have him sidelined until late October.
Vatrano is one of four Massachusetts players on this year's version of Team USA. The others are Canadiens goaltender Mike Condon, Hurricanes defenseman Noah Hanifin and Devils D-man David Warsofsky.
Both Marchand and Pastrnak previously suited up for their countries in the World Junior championships, and Vatrano played in the U.S. National Team Development Program prior to playing college hockey at the University of Massachusetts. Vatrano also previously represented the U.S. at the 2012 IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship in Brno and Znojmo, Czech Republic, where he helped Team USA claim the gold medal.
The IIHF Men's World Championships will start Friday and run until May 22 in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. It features featuring many of the NHL players that aren’t participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ahead of the expansion draft, teams may look to get something in return for players they’d otherwise lose for nothing.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving a warm May the Fourth Be With You to everybody out there.
*Mike Francesa has declared sports radio war on former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, and it’s getting ugly folks.
*A humbled Bruce Boudreau, who really didn’t need to be humbled given what a nice man he is, will have a long line of NHL suitors interested in his services.
*The Northeastern University hockey team has gone to some extremes with their pregame wrestling matches.
*Pro Hockey Talk asks the question: if there’s an expansion draft, which goaltender should the Penguins protect given what’s going on in their playoff series?
*A really nice gesture within the PHT morning skate with Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper going to bat for a Lightning beat reporter that finds himself out of a job.
*Max Domi had a very memorable rookie season even if it didn’t end with any serious consideration for the Calder Trophy.
*The Nashville Predators got a little better this week with the decision to kick Mike Ribeiro up into the press box.
*For something completely different: these Han Solo uniform jerseys for the Durham Bulls’ Star Wars Night are the freakin’ truth.