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Saturday, December 26, 2015

It Is Jack Eichel's World, We're All Just Living In It

In case you didn't know, blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of any type of hockey game is very bad. What about one of the worst teams in the NHL closing out said contest with five unanswered goals you say? The Bruins (19-11-4) were up 3-1 on the Sabres (15-16-4) tonight at TD Garden, with dreams of jumping into first-place in the Atlantic Division as Montreal lost 3-1 in Washington but then the home team completely fell apart in a stunning 6-3 loss. Buffalo's last two goals were empty-netters but you get the picture. North Chelmsford MA native and BU alum (can you say that after 1 year on campus?) Jack Eichel had a decent pro debut in Boston: two goals and two assists.

Coming back from the Christmas break, the Bruins were in control most of the way that is after Evander Kane put in a rebound at 5:13 of the second period to make it 1-0 Sabres. The enigmatic Kane's eighth goal of the season was assisted by Tyler Ennis and Eichel. Jonas Gustavsson (23 saves) got the start against former Bruin Chad Johnson (30 saves) and for a while, it looked like he'd pick up his seventh win of the season, no sweat. Matt Beleskey answered 36 seconds later, tipping in Kevan Miller's shot for his fifth goal of the season. Loui Eriksson had the second helper on Beleskey's tally. Patrice Bergeron gave Boston its first lead at 2-1 when he beat Johnson five-hole (more like 10-hole on that one) at 7:05 of the second. Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara assisted on Bergeron's 12th goal of the season.

David Krejci's beautiful individual effort-he batted his third shot in a row out of mid-air-extended the Bruins' lead to 3-1 at 6:59 of the third period and all seemed well in the Hub. Eriksson picked up his second assist of the night on Krejci's 10th goal of the season. Krejci became the fourth Bruin to reach double-figures in goals this campaign: Marchand (15), Eriksson (13) and Bergeron. Ryan Spooner is the next closest to that mark with eight goals.

All hell started to break loose in the final 10 minutes of regulation as Ryan O'Reilly cut it to 3-2 at 10:21. A rebound off the end-boards caromed right to him and he deposited the puck for his 13th goal of the season. Mike Weber and Cody Franson had the assists on the pricey free agent's innocuous goal. Fate was on Buffalo's side (has that ever been said before?) when Eichel's shot went in the net off of a Bruin skate just 39 seconds later. Jake McCabe had the lone assist on Eichel's 10th goal of the season.

Good old Jamie McGinn had what turned out to be the game-winner at 14:24, a backhander from O'Reilly and Zach Bogosian that was his eighth goal of the season. The No. 1 star of the night-Eichel-and No. 3-O'Reilly boosted their point totals with the empty-netters and the Sabres were on their merry way (sorry about that).

With the loss, Boston also dropped below .500 at the Garden (8-9-2). The good news for them is that they are right back at it tomorrow night (5, NESN) in Ottawa (17-12-6). The Bruins are 11-2-2 on the road and Tuukka Rask will be in net. Haha plus Max Talbot returns from his two-game suspension, game-changer! The Senators have been off since Wednesday and a win tomorrow against the B's would pull them into a tie. From the Things Can Always Be Worse Department: Montreal has lost six games in a row and they remain one point ahead of Boston (who has 3 games in hand).

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