Boston Bruins 5, Buffalo Sabres 3; Series tied 1-1
Well, that was an odd one, wasn’t it? The Boston Bruins took NBC’s first 2010 playoff game this afternoon 5-3 in a game that may come back to haunt the Buffalo Sabres.
At first, it seemed like it was going to be a leisurely stroll through Limp Offense Park for the Sabres. While the Bruins seemingly tripped over their own feet, Buffalo took what looked like a commanding 2-0 lead in the first period (after all, the last game ended 2-1 right?). The scope of the game seemed to change in the second period when Ryan Miller allowed a pop-up goal. Soon after, the game was suddenly 2-2 while the Sabres went from red-hot to eerily blank.
That being said, the Sabres went up 3-2 at the end of the second period, prompting everyone (myself included) to reference their death grip on late leads. Still, the oddness remained in the air from the second period. The Bruins scored two goals in exactly two (hockey) minutes to take a 4-3 lead they would never relinquish.
Ultimately, the Bruins scored an empty net goal to complete their 5-1 run during the second and third periods. Now, it’s worth noting that losing home ice advantage as you go into Boston is less imposing than one might think; after all, the Bruins finished a paltry 18-17-6 in Beantown during the regular season. That being said, the Sabres could be without their leading goal scorer Tomas Vanek, who left today’s game after crashing into the boards. Two tough losses in one bad afternoon for Buffalo.
Who knows, this might just be a rare slip-up in a feel-good journey for Miller and Co. My guess is that whether this series ends in 5, 6 or 7, the Bruins won’t make things easy, though. Remember: this is the playoffs. Anything can happen. The Bruins can even play in a wild, semi-high scoring game.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: