Bruins

BSJ Game Report: Bruins 5, Sabres 2 – Coyle snaps out of slump as B’s build breathing room in East

(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Everything you need to know from the Bruins’ 5-2 win over the Sabres in quickie form, with BSJ insight and analysis:

Box Score

HEADLINES

B's take care of business, separate themselves from pack in East

Charlie Coyle sure picked a great time to snap the longest goal-scoring drought of his career. 

Held off the tally marker for 28 games entering Thursday's matchup against the Sabres, the Weymouth native broke through at 7:58 in the third period, muscling his way past Sam Reinhart before roofing the puck past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to snap a 2-2 deadlock and hand Boston a lead it would not relinquish in what was ultimately a 5-2 victory for the B's at TD Garden. 

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David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand also scored for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask stopped 29 of the 31 shots that came his way in the victory. 

Entering the third period with a slim, one-goal lead, a defensive breakdown led to an easy tally from Reinhart at Grade-A ice — knotting the contest up at 2-2 just 1:43 into the frame. But Coyle's unassisted tally a little over six minutes later not only put Boston ahead for good — but generated another late-game surge that prevented this game from turning into a nail-biter. 

Once again, Boston's second line (perhaps we should start calling them a 1B line at this point?) landed its punches down the stretch, with Krejci (two points in the win) setting up Hall’s fifth tally in a B’s sweater to give Boston a 4-2 lead. Marchand closed things out with an empty-netter to cap the scoring on the evening.

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With the win, the Bruins have built themselves some serious breathing room in the East Division — especially with the fifth-seeded Rangers losing in regulation to the Islanders.

Going into Friday, Boston still sits in fourth place in the East Division with 64 points — but the Rangers are now falling back with 58 points, with New York having already played two more games than the B’s. 

THREE UP

David Krejci: Ain't it crazy what happens when you pair a star center with top-flight talent? What a concept! Krejci has been on a tear since the deadline, scoring six goals and 11 total points over his last 10 games — with his latest tally serving as a buzzer-beater on the power play to close out the first period of action. His helper on Hall’s tally is going to make many highlight reels to close out this 2021 NHL season. As we noted a few days ago, Boston, at long last, has a fully functioning top-six unit once again. 

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Tuukka Rask: Jeremy Swayman's ascension over the last month has been a sight to behold, but this is still Rask's net — at least for this year. The B's netminder was sharp once again on Thursday, stopping 29 shots and turning aside six high-danger scoring chances - including a couple of breakaways and loose pucks in the blue paint. Since returning from his nagging upper-body injury, Rask is 5-0-0 over six games with a .936 save percentage.

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Charlie Coyle: It was great to finally see Coyle get off the schneid — lighting the lamp for the first time since Feb. 28 with a trademark drive to the net for the big-bodied forward. Moving Coyle over to the wing for now seems to be helping him settle back into a groove in the O-zone, but Boston is going to need him back at the 3C spot come the playoffs — so getting him rolling a bit offensively is going to be crucial down the stretch.

ONE DOWN

D-zone turnovers: Both Pastrnak and Hall both managed to light the lamp in the this one, but both wingers were knocked for some sloppy D-zone turnovers in the early going, with Pastrnak's miscue directly leading to Buffalo's first goal of the night off the stick of Casey Mittelstadt. Boston is going to have to clean some things up on their breakout, because Boston shouldn't be relinquish these kind of "gimmies" — especially to a team of Buffalo's caliber.

PLAY OF THE GAME: This is some nasty stuff here from Krejci.

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PARTING THOUGHTS: That flex move is looking more and more like a staple of Marchand's on-ice antics.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: Ho hum from Krejci.

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LOOKING AHEAD: The Bruins will mercifully close out their season series against the Sabres on Saturday with a matinee matchup. Puck drop is set for 1 p.m.