Ellis helps Sabres stop streaking Bruins

By Tony Lee
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

BOSTON (Ticker) — The Boston Bruins had to be cooled off at
some point. They probably didn’t think Matt Ellis would be the
one to do it.

Ellis had two goals for the first time in his career and added
an assist as the Buffalo Sabres ended a pair of long streaks for
the front-running Bruins with a 4-2 victory Saturday at TD
Banknorth Garden.

Thomas Vanek and Paul Gaustad also scored and Ryan Miller made
29 saves as the Sabres snapped Boston’s 14-game winning streak
at home and its 10-game run overall – both the longest streaks
in the league this season.

The weight of the win was not lost on Buffalo, a winner of three
of its last four.

“We were going to treat this as a playoff game,” Vanek said.
“Boston is the hottest team in the league. To come into their
building and get two points is pretty big for our hockey club
right now.”

The Bruins, who got goals from Phil Kessel and Shawn Thornton,
had not lost at home since a 4-2 setback to Toronto on October

Boston’s 10-game streak was the fourth-longest in team history
and its run at home the longest since a 16-game run from January
10-March 25, 1976.

Both streaks came to an end thanks the an improbable effort from
the 27-year-old Ellis, who is with his third team in two seasons
and was recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League
just last month.

“I’ve been all over the map the last six to eight months,” Ellis
said. “I’m just taking things one day at a time. It’s been quite
a journey. It’s my first multi-point game in the NHL and I’m
pretty happy about it.”

“We were all enjoying this high we were on and it’s unfortunate
it has to end sometime,” said Boston center Marc Savard, who
extended his points streak to five games with an assist on
Kessel’s team-leading 24th goal in the first. “You’re not going
to win 82 games so we have to get back on it.”

Ellis set the tone less than four minutes in when he took a feed
from Jason Pominville and pushed the puck past goaltender Tim
Thomas for his second goal of the season at 3:20.

Ellis’ positioning on the goal was critical and something Sabres
coach Lindy Ruff has been preaching of late.

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“That’s really what the game’s all about now,” Ruff said of
Ellis getting in place in front of the net. “Matt Ellis, both
goals right around the paint. He did a great job showing a lot
of composure.

“I give him a lot of credit. He puts a lot of work into the game
and does a lot of little things right. I was proud of him. I was
happy for him that he was able to get a three-point night.”

Ellis last had such an effort two seasons ago when he recorded a
hat trick while with Grand Rapids of the AHL.

Vanek gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead moments later when he
redirected a shot from Derek Roy for a power-play tally at 5:08
– his team-leading 26th goal of the season.

The Bruins got on the board when Savard fed Kessel for a
power-play goal midway through the first, but Ellis made it 3-1
early in the second when he hammered home the rebound of a shot
by Ales Kotalik at 3:04.

Ellis, who assisted on Gaustad’s goal to make it 4-2 late in the
second, entered with just four goals and five assists in 84
career games in the NHL.

Thomas made 21 saves in his first loss in eight games this
month. He has suffered two of his four regulation losses this
season to the Sabres.

The 34-year-old netminder was crowded all afternoon, a product
of Buffalo’s game plan.

“Yeah, they created a lot of traffic,” Thomas said. “They did
some of the things that we are actually pretty good at doing
also and they were rewarded with some bounces.”

Thornton’s third goal of the season beat Miller glove-side at
9:51 of the second to cut Boston’s deficit to 3-2. But Miller
did the job the rest of the way in improving to 3-2-0 against
the Bruins this season.

Miller was aided early by a slew of missed opportunities by the
Bruins, one when Savard botched a shot from the doorstep that a
sprawling Miller was able to corral.

Savard started to raise his stick in triumph, but sensed later
that he and his teammates had had a few too many breaks of late.

“Usually, even if I fan on it, it would jump up into the air,
hit Miller in the head and go in,” Savard said. “Tonight, I
guess the guy upstairs had enough. He said, ‘Enough, that is
enough breaks.'”