Buffalo rallied from a three-goal, third-period deficit and beat Boston 5-4 in a shootout Thursday night, with Ales Kotalik scored the tying goal with 95 seconds left in regulation and then converting the last shot in the shootout.
“I still can’t believe it happened. I guess that’s what we’re capable of,” said goalie Ryan Miller, who stopped 30 shots and then two out of three in the shootout. “We were in a deep hole. This shows we don’t quit.”
The Sabres won their first 10 games of the season before falling to Atlanta in a shootout on Saturday despite rallying from four, one-goal deficits. They trailed Boston 4-1 before Maxim Afinogenov scored with 8:49 left in regulation; he got another with 2:30 left and Kotalik tied it just 55 seconds later.
“I can’t remember being on a team that has done that,” forward Chris Drury said. “Coming back that late is pretty unique.”
In the shootout, Glen Murray lost the handle on the puck for Boston before Daniel Briere put it between Tim Thomas’ legs. P.J. Axelsson tried to score straight on, but Miller stopped him, then Thomas turned back Afinogenov. Patrice Bergeron put one through for the Bruins, but so did Kotalik.
And the Sabres were back to their winning ways.
Despite scoring in the shootout, Briere’s 10-game point streak – the longest active streak in the NHL – came to an end for the Sabres, who have beaten Boston in nine of the last 10 tries.
“This team has always been on the right side of confidence,” Kotalik said, “especially after winning our first 10 games.”
The Sabres had won 15 regular-season games in a row dating to April 7 of last season – two short of the NHL record set by the 1993 Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s compared to the Bruins, who beat Ottawa on Saturday for just their third victory of the season and have not won back-to-back games since March 16-18.
Thomas made 29 saves for the Bruins and Marc Savard had a goal and two assists for the Bruins, who responded to significant line changes to score more than three goals for the first time all season.
“There’s no excuse for blowing the lead, but there’s a lot of good things I can take out of it,” Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. “You wonder how I do that, but there were a lot of very good things happening on the ice for us tonight. We didn’t complete the game. That’s the only thing.”
Boston outshot the Sabres 16-5 in a scoreless first period and then outscored them 3-1 in the second to seemingly take control of the game.
Matt Lashoff scored his first NHL point when he helped spring a 2-on-1 early in the second. He bounced the puck off the boards to Savard, who took it down the left side, faked a shot from the circle to draw in defenceman Jaroslav Spacek and then centred it to Axelsson for the goal.
Axelsson finished with a goal and an assist for Boston.
Jason Pominville tied it when he redirected a slap shot from Brian Campbell at the 6:43 mark of the second. But Savard scored on the rebound after Bergeron’s slapper hit metal; it was the first power-play goal allowed by Buffalo in 16 tries.
Murray knocked in the rebound of Savard’s shot to give the Bruins a 3-1 lead heading into the third. Brad Boyes circled behind the net and backhanded to Mark Mowers, who converted his first goal as a Bruin to make it 4-1 with 3:56 into the third period.
That’s when the Sabres woke up.
Afinogenov made it 4-2 at the 11:11 mark of the third, then scored again with 2:30 left to pull Buffalo within one. Kotalik tied it just 55 seconds later when he slid it under Thomas’ pads.
Notes: The Bruins observed a moment of silence in memory of Celtics icon Red Auerbach before the game. … Sabres forward Pominville scored his sixth goal in six games. … Boston’s Marco Sturm and Andrew Alberts returned to the lineup after missing four and three games, respectively. … Savard, a former Atlanta Thrasher who signed with Boston as free agent, leads the Bruins with 10 points. … Boston scored twice on the power play despite entering the game tied for last in man-down goals; Buffalo was tied for fourth in killing power plays.