BUFFALO, N.Y. – Alex Auld is quickly earning the respect of his Boston teammates.
Auld made 44 saves in his second start since being acquired from Phoenix on Thursday, and Marc Savard had a goal and assist to lift the Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
Auld was spectacular in his second straight win, and made several scintillating saves in the second and third periods when Boston was outshot by a 33-15 margin.
“When he played for Florida last year he had our number, so I knew he was a good goaltender,” Savard said. “Phoenix had a lot of goalies, so their loss is our gain right now for sure.”
The 26-year-old Auld was just 3-6 with a 3.54 goals-against average and one shutout in nine games with the Coyotes this season before being assigned to San Antonio of the AHL. He made 25 saves in his Boston debut Saturday at Toronto, a 2-1 Bruins win.
“I have a lot of confidence in what I can do, but at the same time you don’t want to get too ahead of yourself,” Auld said. “I feel I can play in this league and I feel it’s where I belong.”
Despite Auld’s play, Boston coach Claude Julien said Tim Thomas will continue to be Boston’s starter when he fully recovers from a groin injury sustained last week. Still, Julien praised Auld’s showing against the Sabres.
“It’s nice to have a situation where you can depend on who you are going to put in there,” he said. “It was a solid performance on his part. The outcome could have been a lot different, especially if he hadn’t bailed us out there in the second period.”
P.J. Axelsson, Peter Schaefer and Glen Metropolit also scored for the Bruins, who won their second straight and third in five games.
“It wasn’t one of our best efforts,” Savard said. “We don’t want to ride our lead like we did tonight. Thankfully, we had Alex back there. … He was fantastic.”
Jaroslav Spacek scored for Buffalo, which lost for the fourth time in six games. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller finished with 17 saves.
“We have to find a way to score,” said Buffalo forward Jason Pominville, who had a game-high eight shots. “We’re not going to win many games getting one goal.”
The Bruins’ struggling offence scored three goals on their first five shots. Coming in, Boston had scored just 11 times in its last five games.
“Auld played a strong game, but I need to make some plays,” Miller said. “You can’t start a game with three quick goals. I have to do better.”
Savard got things going with his sixth of the year 6:29 in when he picked off Sabres defenceman Toni Lydman’s cross-ice pass and sent a wrist shot into the net.
Axelsson made it 2-0 with his fourth just 44 seconds later, beating Miller with a quick wrist shot from the slot.
Spacek scored his seventh goal, on the power play, to cut the deficit in half, but the Bruins regained their two-goal cushion on Schaefer’s fifth 70 seconds later. Schaefer scored from the right circle after another Lydman turnover.
After a scoreless second period, Metropolit scored his seventh at 10:08 of the third, banking home a rebound after Miller stopped Milan Lucic’s shot.
Miller was shaken up after the goal and was tended to by a Buffalo trainer for about three minutes on the ice, but he remained in the game. Afterward, he said he tweaked his ankle, which briefly went numb.
“We did the right things, so to not come out with a win still hurts,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.