Clearly a home ice surface under the Boston Bruins’ blades is the difference between a win and lose against the Buffalo Sabres.
These two teams have faced each other three times so far this season. On Saturday night, Dec. 21, the Bruins defeated the Sabres 4-1. Two days prior, Dec. 19, the Bruins fell to the Sabres in Buffalo, NY 4-2. Coincidentally, the first game of the season between these two Atlantic division foes, the Bruins came out on top at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass.
Luckily, this game was at the TD Garden, proving my theory correct.
The Bruins opened the scoring on the night. The 22-year-old, Canadian-native, Reilly Smith yet again proved why he is in the big leagues and why he is playing for a historically successful franchise. Half way through the first period, Smith snapped the puck into the back of the net off of a swift one-timer pass from Carl Soderberg on the power play. Smith has the second-highest goals scored (11) assists (14) and points (25) for the Bruins.
Zemgus Girgensons and the Sabres raced down the ice nine minutes later successfully, tying the game up before the end of the first period. However this draw lasted less than two minutes into the second period. Assists and point leader for the Bruins, David Krejci released a wicked wrist shot over the glove of Jhonas Enroth.
The Bruins were not finished, yet.
Five minutes into the third period, Milan Lucic chipped in to increase the lead to 3-1. The 6-foot-3 forward camped out near the slot and snapped off a shot past Enroth from a Krejci bang-bang pass.
The game continued to be a battle. Girgensons, Christian Ehrhoff, and Matt Moulson of the Sabres rapidly peppered shots at Bruins goalie, Tuukka Rask, in a third period effort to come back. The Sabres ripped off 14 shots in the final period, but were unsuccessful.
Smith solidified the victory and defeated any late-game comeback opportunities with 22 seconds left in the game, scoring on an empty net.
Unsurprisingly, at the helm of it, Rask was a stonewall between the pipes. Facing 35 shots, he allowed only one goal, improving his save percentage. Out of goalies with at least 20 games played, Rask has the most shutouts (3), the second-highest save percentage (.936) and goals against average (1.87) in the entire National Hockey League. Rask consistently proves that he is a strong candidate for the Most Valuable Player award for the 2013-14 season.
The Bruins hope to build off of this win in Nashville, Tenn. against the Predators on Monday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. EST. For all you New Englanders, make sure you tune into NESN to watch the game unfold.