BOSTON – The Buffalo Sabres have climbed back into the playoff race.
Daniel Paille scored twice, and Ryan Miller stopped 30 shots Tuesday night to lead Buffalo to a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins and give the Sabres their fourth victory in five games.
“It was one team hungrier than the other,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They fought for their lives. They needed to get back into the race. And we didn’t respond well enough to the challenge.”
Thomas Vanek broke a second-period tie for the Sabres, who have earned nine of 10 possible points since losing 12 of 13 – and the first two on a seven-game road trip – to fall into the Northeast Division cellar. Buffalo, which arrived in Boston in 11th place in the conference, is four points behind the eighth-place Bruins for the last playoff spot in the East.
“After the first two games (of the road trip), we knew we needed to pick it up,” Paille said. “We’re not in a playoff spot yet, so we’ve got to keep it up.”
Tim Thomas made 24 saves for Boston, which had beaten the Sabres in three of the first four games this season. Thomas has lost his last two decisions after winning five in a row.
P.J. Axelsson scored for Boston with 9:48 gone in the first period to tie it 1-1. That was all the scoring for the Bruins until the final seconds, when Mark Stuart beat Miller for a meaningless goal.
“In the third period, they were determined not to let us back in the game,” Julien said.
The clock showed 0.0, and while the referee spoke to the off-ice official to confirm that the goal beat the horn both teams celebrated. But the Bruins’ celebration was brief, and halfhearted.
Eleven-tenths of a second were put back on the clock for one perfunctory faceoff.
Paille made it 1-0 when he redirected Jason Pominville’s pass by Thomas from the edge of the crease 3:30 into the game. It’s Paille’s second two-goal game of the season. Axelsson tied it when he scored off the rebound of David Krejci’s shot 6:18 later.
Vanek tipped Drew Stafford’s pass between Thomas’ pads with 5:44 gone in the second period. Paille added an insurance goal with 6:06 left when he got his skate in the way of Jochen Hecht’s pass and redirected it into the net.
Buffalo made it 4-1 with 1:33 left when Toni Lydman wristed a shot high past a screened Thomas on a power play. It was Lydman’s second goal of the season.
Notes: Marco Sturm needs one assist to have 200 in his career. … Derek Roy has 12 points in seven games since returning on Jan. 18 from a shoulder injury. … Buffalo was 1-for-5 on the power play. … Hecht, who had two assists, now has 201 in his career. .. Chuck Kobasew assisted on the Bruins’ second goal, tying his career-high with 31 points for the season. … The Bruins have lost consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 8-10.