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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sabres Pretend To Be Tough, Eventually Crumble As Bruins Win 10th Straight

When you haven't lost in the month of November and you extend a winning streak to 10 games, you are bound to have some victories that you basically pull out of your ass-for the lack of a better term.

Tonight in Buffalo at the First Niagara Center (when did that name change happen?) was one of those occasions when the Bruins (13-7-0) dug themselves a big hole: a pair of two-goal deficits (2-0 and 3-1) but they were able to weather the emotional storm from the Sabres (13-7-0) and move to the front of the Northeast Division with a thrilling 4-3 shootout win.

Benoit Pouliot of all people provided the winner in overtime as Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth (36 saves) and Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (31 saves, 10-4-0) stopped every other shot before that deciding one in the fifth round.

Believe it or not, it has only been two years (2009-10) since the Bruins won 10 in a row. They last did the deed in December 2009. We all have short memories huh?

Coming 11 days after Millergate, everyone knew that Buffalo would be gunning for Milan Lucic. Credit to them, I guess, since Paul Gaustad stood up to him right away as the two fought 1:23 into the contest. However by nature the Sabres are simply not a physical or tough team so their actions felt scripted whereas the Bruins naturally play with an edge to their game. Oh and Lucic won the fight, so nice try.

The Sabres benefited from two shaky hometown calls to cash in with a pair of power-play goals in the first period. After a huge scrum which included Zdeno Chara mauling Robyn Regehr, the refs decided to tack on an extra two minutes for roughing on Adam McQuaid.

Former Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff (2nd of the season) made the B's pay with a howitzer from the point at 11:56.

A suspect hooking call on Dennis Seidenberg resulted in the obligatory Thomas Vanek goal (his 12th of the season) against Boston which made it 2-0 at 15:22.

Boston started to settle down in the second period and they took advantage of a hooking call as Tyler Seguin (12th of the season, topping his rookie total of 11) one-timed a pass from Patrice Bergeron (2 assists) to cut it to 2-1 at 3:37. Rich Peverley had the second assist.

The Bruins dominated the second (outshooting the Sabres 13-6) but Buffalo got another one, this time against the run of play. It took a lucky bounce off a Bruins skate but credit to Sabres rookie T.J. Brennan who was in the right spot to get his first career NHL goal at 11:02.

Heading into the third down two goals would have been a very tall order but luckily the B's didn't have to face such a scenario. Brad Marchand (7th of the season) roofed a shot over Enroth's glove following a rebound at 16:00. Bergeron and Seguin had the assists.

Chara (3rd of the season) tied it at 3:35 into the third with his patended bomb from the point. Lucic and David Krejci assisted on the captain's tally. Much like his team which had a shot advantage in the third as well (12-8), Thomas got stronger as the game went on. Boston was able to survive a hooking penalty to Krejci with 1:03 left in regulation.

Vanek, Nathan Gerbe (the former BC midget who had a great game), Jason Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford all came up empty in the shootout for the home team. Before Pouliot's success, Seguin, Peverley, Krejci and Bergeron were all stoned by Enroth.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. The Bruins come back to Boston to celebrate the holiday with their families and then they get to face the Detroit Red Wings on Friday afternoon in a marquee game which kicks off NBC's coverage for 2011-12. We all remember what happened in the two games the teams played last season-the Wings rolled-so it'll be interesting to see if the B's can improve on that forgettable home-and-home set.

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