BOSTON -- Buffalo Sabres goaltender Anders Lindback started each game of a back-to-back because coach Ted Nolan said Lindback had been hot.
Lindback didn’t cool off against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
One night after he lost in a shootout to the Washington Capitals, Lindback made a career-high 44 saves on 45 shots and stopped three Bruins in the shootout for a 2-1 win at TD Garden.
The win was Lindback’s first for the Sabres. He was traded by the Dallas Stars to Buffalo on Feb. 11 for a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. In seven games for Buffalo, which is 29th in the NHL in goals allowed per game, Lindback has a .934 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average.
"It feels good obviously," Lindback said. "I think we as a team deserve it. We have been working so hard, and where we are it’s a tough situation to be in for everyone that is here. I've got to say that I have been impressed with everybody to just keep battling and keep buying in on a day like this, so it feels good."
Buffalo forward Tyler Ennis scored the only goal of the shootout, and the Sabres (20-43-7) got their first win in five games this season against the Bruins (36-23-11). Boston had 95 shot attempts to 47 for Buffalo.
"We were talking about it in-between periods. It was almost like the 'Thrilla in Manila.' We just rope-a-doped them," Nolan said. "I think they got tired going in our offensive zone for the whole period, but they almost seemed like they were in there for 19 minutes, and Lindback played great. I thought we were in pretty good position defensively for a vast majority of the game. We have to be, and to luck it out at the end was good for this group."
Boston leads the Ottawa Senators by four points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Considering the circumstances of the playoff race, the Bruins felt they let the 30th-place Sabres off the hook.
"I thought we had a lot of chances today to score more goals and win the game," Bruins forward Loui Eriksson said. "But, yeah, we need to find ways to score those goals too. We create a lot of chances, but when we get that chance we have to really focus to put it in too. That cost us the game. I thought we were the much better team today, and we just need to get better on that. We know we have a tough road trip coming up here."
Bruins backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg made 23 saves. Although Tuukka Rask was scheduled to get a night off, it was still a surprise he was scratched because of what the Bruins called general soreness. Rask was replaced by Jeremy Smith, who was an emergency call-up from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League.
Boston coach Claude Julien shed little light on Rask’s absence after the game.
"I’m not going to comment on that. I don’t know," Julien said.
Eriksson gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 9:55 of the first period when he retrieved a loose puck near the right post and flipped it past Lindback. Center Carl Soderberg won a faceoff back to defenseman Adam McQuaid, whose shot was blocked, hit the end wall and then the side of the net before landing on Eriksson’s stick.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres 14-3 in the first.
Boston outshot Buffalo 12-7 in the second period but wasn’t able to extend its lead. The Sabres missed two chances to tie the game early in the second when Nicolas Deslauriers and Matt Moulson each hit the post less than a minute apart.
But the Sabres had a power play that carried over to the third period and they scored.
Ristolainen beat Svedberg with a wrist shot from the blue line that deflected twice and entered the net at 1:23 to tie the game 1-1.
The Bruins start a three-game road trip Thursday against the Senators, Boston’s closest competitor for the second wild card.
"Well, we know what’s at stake," Julien said. "So it’s up to us to bounce back here and win. That next game’s going to be as important as it’s ever been so far this year. And we know that, so we’ve got to pick up our socks here and not feel sorry for ourselves because we feel we got shortchanged here tonight and understand what’s at stake."
The Sabres host the New Jersey Devils on Friday.