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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Bruins Repeatedly Puke on Their Skates, Fall 2-1 in Shootout vs. Sabres-The NHL's Worst Team

Boston's (36-23-11) 2-1 shootout loss to Buffalo (20-43-7) on Tuesday at TD Garden is exactly the type of result that keeps a team one point out of the playoffs in a month. The Bruins are still in decent shape (up 3 points on Ottawa) for eighth-place in the Eastern Conference but when you play the worst club in the NHL at home (in their second leg of a back-to-back), you have to get two points.

What made matters worse for the B's is that they had 95 shots (45 on goal, 28 blocked and 22 missed the net) while holding the Sabres to only 47 (24 on goal, 10 blocked & 13 missed the net). Anders Lindback (3-11-2) picked up his first win for Buffalo and first as a starter this season (he had 2 in relief with Dallas), so at least we can say that Boston was part of NHL history in that respect. Tuukka Rask was out with "general soreness," haha really. It was the perfect time for Niklas Svedberg (7-5-1; 23 saves) to make his once-a-month start and he was fine since he could mostly nap during play-Buffalo had 10 shots through the first two periods.

It looked like it was going to be a St. Patrick's Day laugher when Loui Eriksson scored at 9:55 of the first period for an early 1-0 Bruins advantage. Adam McQuaid's shot went off the end boards and took a weird bounce right to Eriksson in front of the net. Other than empty-netters, Boston won't get an easier goal this season than Eriksson's 18th of the season. Carl Soderberg had the other assist, his first point in seven games while McQuaid snapped a 23-game scoreless streak. I won't mention that Soderberg hasn't scored a goal in exactly two months but oops, I just did!

Even though the B's must have set a season-high in shots and also zone time (good luck keeping track of that), you had a terrible feeling that Buffalo would somehow win when they could never extend their lead. The inevitable happened after they let the Sabres hang around: Buffalo tied it at 1:23 of the third period. Rasmus Ristolainen's power-play shot from the point went off Matt Bartkowski's skate and through Svedberg's five-hole because of course. Ristolainen's fifth goal of the season was assisted by BC's Brian Gionta and Johan Larsson.

Boston got more pressure in overtime, outshooting Buffalo 7-3, but when it went to a shootout you knew they wouldn't win. The Bruins beat the Lightning in a shootout last Thursday to snap a seven-game losing streak in them but they came in 3-7 overall this season while Buffalo improved to 8-5 in the novelty format. Tyler Ennis had the lone shootout goal as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Torey Krug all failed to get the job done.

This completed a three-games-in-four-nights stretch for the B's with another beginning on Thursday (7:30, NESN) at Ottawa (34-24-11). Needless to say, that is the biggest contest of the season thus far. Then it's off to Florida (31-25-14) on Saturday night (7, NESN) followed by Tampa Bay (43-21-7) on Sunday night (5, NESN). Boston only has twelve games left in the regular season: the Senators and Panthers represent their remaining competition for the second Wild Card while the Lightning are a team they could see in the first round of the postseason (assuming that they make it).

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