BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Boston Bruins are getting all the breaks lately, thanks in large part to their rookie goalie.
Tuukka Rask made 43 saves and David Krejci scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout to help the Bruins beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Tuesday night. The Sabres are now winless in five.
After losing five straight in regulation as part of a 10-game winless streak, the Bruins (25-22-11) have put together a modest two-game winning stretch and have garnered points in five of their last six games (2-1-3).
They also were able to snap a five-game shootout losing streak.
“We found a way, and it’s a big two points for us,” said Krejci, who beat Miller with a wrist shot after Buffalo’s Jason Pominville and Boston’s Marco Sturm scored in the first round. “When you lose 10 in a row, it’s in your head, so we can’t think about what happened before.”
Rask, who made his fourth straight start in place of Tim Thomas, has been a big part of Boston’s resurgence that has gotten them back into the playoff picture. He’s allowed just six goals over those four starts, including a 36-save performance in a shutout win over Montreal on Sunday.
“Tuukka stood tall for us,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “He made some big saves, and he’s been good for us. He’s getting an opportunity to play some consecutive games and he’s really taking advantage of it.”
Daniel Paille snapped a seven-game goal drought by scoring twice in regulation for Boston, which entered in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
“He’s a quiet guy and sometimes he needs to be waked up,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said of Paille, a former Sabres winger. “But when he’s on, he’s on.”
While the Bruins have started to make a move, the Sabres continue to slide in the opposite direction as their once double-digit Northeast Division-lead has evaporated after Ottawa’s win over Calgary pulled the Senators into a first-place tie. Buffalo has two games in hand on Ottawa.
Buffalo came out flat, and was never fully able to recover from Paille’s first-period goals.
“It’s not good enough,” said Derek Roy, who scored the Sabres’ first goal of the game in the second period. “We have to go out and play a full 60 minutes to get two points.”
Rookie Tyler Myers also scored for the slumping Sabres (32-18-8), who are just 2-7-2 in their last 11 games. Ryan Miller, the likely starter for the United States when the Olympics begin next week, made 32 saves.
The Bruins struck first when Paille shovelled the puck in on a wraparound attempt 4:51 into the game.
Boston increased its lead to 2-0 when Paille scored his ninth of the season by deflecting Chara’s shot from the point seven minutes later.
The Sabres tied it with a pair of goals in the second period. Roy scored at 4:35 while Buffalo was on a two-man advantage, and Myers made it 2-2 with 85 seconds left in the middle frame when his wrist shot from the high slot went in off Boston defenceman Andrew Ference’s stick.
“Bad start to the game,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “For having a day off and then a practice day, I expected a lot more, especially in the first 10 minutes.”
NOTES: Myers was struck in the face by a shot by Paille with 43 seconds left in regulation and didn’t return. Ruff said the defenceman was fine after the game. … The Sabres came in with the top-ranked penalty killing unit, while the Bruins were second. … Bruins forward Mark Recchi played in his 1,548th career NHL game, putting him one behind Alex Delvecchio for ninth place on the all-time list. … The game was delayed 15 minutes for a ceremony that inducted former Sabres player Jim Lorentz and former coach Joe Crozier into the team’s Hall of Fame. … Buffalo C Tim Connolly tied a career high with his 39th assist on Roy’s goal. … Krejci was able to play after leaving Sunday’s win in Montreal with a leg injury.