Glen Metropolit faces off against Paul Gaustad (photo: Babineau)
Boston, MA -- Thanks to goals from Marco Sturm and Chuck Kobasew (they both scored their seventh goal of the season), and stellar goaltending from Tim Thomas (who made 45 saves), the Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1, Saturday night.
"It was a very, very grinding game for us," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
Chara, who looked as if the weight of the world had been lifted off of his broad shoulders, looked relaxed as he explained the significance of the B's big victory.
"We didn't have our legs," he said. "It was obvious, and it's going to happen that way some nights; you won't feel that great.
"But, we survived," said Chara.
The big barn on Causeway street was sold out (17,565) as the B's hosted the Sabres in the third of eight games between these teams this season and the second of four games of this season's series at TD Banknorth Garden, and it was clear that the Boston vs. Buffalo rivalry was in full swing.
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas celebrates after the Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in Boston Saturday, Nov. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
In fact, Thomas decided to take his nickname (Tank) seriously and become ultra combative in his latest start. He attempted to set a physical tone early when he challenged two Buffalo skaters (and unfortunately earned a roughing call in the attempt).
He was loudly cheered by the home crowd, who seemed to have gotten tired of opposing skaters crashing his crease with impunity during the past few divisional match ups.
"The last game we played, these guys they were whacking me every time I went to cover the puck," he said. "I decided to send them a little message.
"I'm sick of it."
The only thing that resulted from Thomas' penalty was a strong 1-on-0 attempt by Phil Kessel as he exited the box after he served the minor. Buffalo's goalie, Ryan Miller, just got the toe of his skate on his bid.
"I didn't necessarily want to take a penalty, but as it turned out, it wasn't such a bad thing to send a message," said the Boston goalie.
Thomas had seen 10 shots in his crease by the halfway point of the game and had thrown three haymakers at Buffalo forwards -- including former Northeastern stand-out Mike Ryan, who seemed a little surprised after having a Black & Gold glove shoved forcefully into his face.
Despite Thomas' newfound pugilism, Buffalo kept consistent pressure on the goalie (albeit no longer inside his crease) and out chanced the B's 15 shots to 6 in the first.
Generating offense in the second period did not get any easier for the Black & Gold and they did not reach the 10 shot mark until almost seven minutes into the frame.
Thankfully, however, Thomas was able to continuously hold off the Sabres and had 25 saves by the midway point of the game and had reached 30 stops with 5:22 remaining on the session's clock. Marco Sturm relieved some of the pressure on his goaltender when he scored his seventh goal of the campaign to put Boston in the lead, 1-0, at 18:16.
"I love to score and love to celebrate," said Sturm. "I am always trying not to go crazy, but I just can't stop it.
"It was a two on one and was just a great pass from (Marc Savard)...and I just tried as hard as I can to go to the net."
So, Boston went to the locker room up by one, but being out shot 32-13.
In the third stanza, it was more of the same for Tim Thomas and he had his 40th save with 14 minutes remaining in the game, and the visting Sabres pressed and pressed in an attempt to tie the score and leave Boston with a point.
And they did, when a Boston power play miscue left five Bruins on one side of the B's zone and a Sabre alone off to the left of Thomas' crease. Daniel Paille was that Sabre, and he scored at 8:13 of the third.
The B's celebrate with Kobasew (Babineau)
Chuck Kobasew put the Black & Gold back in the lead (for good) shortly thereafter with his goal at 9:45. Kobasew bounce-passed the puck behind his back and into the net behind Miller to make the score, 2-1 Boston. It was the former Boston College standout's seventh of the season.
"Pure fluke," said Kobasew. "It was just a reaction. I was trying to get a stick on it (and) I was just trying to get a backhand on it."
The Sabres continued to rattle the Bruins cage, however, and repeatedly tested Thomas throughout the second half of the third period.
But Thomas, and Boston, held on for the 2-1, win.
"There's no doubt that we had to (pull this out) somehow," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien post game. "We had five big games in the last eight games…I am sure it caught up to us a little bit (and) we certainly didn't have the jump we normally have.
"But the one thing that I did notice was that in the third period our guys really battled.
"They dug deep to make this turn into a win. They're not always pretty, but these two points are obviously huge for us," he said.
Boston does not play again until Thursday -- another divisional match up with Toronto.
Notes: The Bruins put on an outstanding video tribute to veterans during the first intermission after having the color guard of "Old Ironsides," the USS Constitution, present the colors during pregame ceremonies and former sailor Wayne Naus, professor at Berklee College of Music, played the Star Spangled Banner (pregame) and God Bless America (1st break)...Savard appeared in his 600th NHL game…Matt Hunwick played his first NHL game and fellow rookie defenseman Matt Lashoff played his first NHL game of the season.
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