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Sunday, 22 December 2013 04:17

Reilly Smith shines as Boston Bruins down Buffalo Sabres 4-1

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Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins graced the TD Garden Saturday night on different ends of the spectrum. Buffalo looked to secure their second win in a row against the Black and Gold after making the most of their home-ice advantage with a 4-2 triumph on Thursday evening. The loss put a blemish on what has been an impressive stretch for the Beantown Boys as they had gone 7-3 in their last 10 games before Saturday’s tilt.

Prior to Saturday’s contest, the Sabres were starting to head in the right direction, going 4-4-2 in their past 10 contests. That was an encouraging sign given that the team has been looking up at the rest of the Atlantic Division with an 8-23-3 record heading into the contest.

Boston came into the game looking down at the rest of the Atlantic Division with a 23-10-2 record. They looked to bounce back from their loss to this Sabres team Thursday evening and right the ship. If there was any positive from the defeat last game it was the play of forward Brad Marchand, who notched two goals in 17:04 of total ice time. Now, the Bruins were hoping that Marchand’s hot stick could aide them to a victory over their division foes.

Instead, it was the stick of Reilly Smith that did the trick this evening. He scored the first tally for the Bruins at 9:39 in the first frame. The play was masterfully executed in the triangle formation as Boston University product David Warsofsky fed the saucer to Ryan Spooner who promptly dished it off to Patrice Bergeron behind the net. The ice was Bergeron’s canvas as he fed a laser to Carl Soderberg who passed it off to his left finding a waiting Smith for the tally. For Smith, the powerplay goal was his 10th of the season.

Buffalo would answer quickly as Matt Moulson was an absolute horse at the front of the net, battling his way there and he managed to take Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask off of the post. That created enough room for a waiting Zemgus Girgensons to put the puck home, exploiting a small sliver of space on the right side of the net. For Girgensons, that was his fourth cage-rattler of the year and his first since December 10. The tally came at the 18:54 mark in the first period and that combined with Smith’s goal would be all the first frame would yield (as well as the only tally of the game for the Sabres), and both teams entered the confines of the locker room with the game tied at 1 apiece.

The second period would spark only one goal courtesy of David Krejci.  The play started courtesy of Moulson whose shot rattled off the pads of Rask and led to a juicy rebound. Jarome Iginla took that rebound and was a gazelle as he tore up the ice with fluidity and speed. Trailing behind him was Krejci and recognizing this, Iginla dropped a dime right into Krejci’s wheelhouse for Krejci’s seventh of the season. The twine-splitter was established at the 1:47 mark and gave the Black and Gold a 2-1 advantage heading into the third frame. Boston would continue their torrid scoring blitzkrieg in the third, not letting the intermission dry up the seemingly rich “fountain of scoring.”

Milan Lucic kicked things off in the third period recording his 12th goal of the season at the 5:18 mark. The play was started courtesy of a great pass from Torey Krug to Zdeno Chara who received the puck at the middle of the blueline. The captain delivered a brilliant slap-pass to Krejci who distributed a laser to Lucic for the goal, his 12th of the season. With the Bruins lead now doubled the game was officially out of reach for the Sabres.

As if to put more salt in Buffalo’s wound, Smith scored his second goal of the game, an empty-netter,  his 11th of the year at the 19:38 mark, making the score 4-1 and sending the TD Garden crowd home happy.

With the win, the Bruins improved to 24-10-2 on the season while Buffalo dropped to 8-24-3 on the year. Rask advanced his record to 18-8-2 on the year while Jhonas Enroth fell to 1-7-3. The Bruins and Sabres both return to action Monday night as the Black and Gold travel to Nashville to take on the Predators at 8:00 PM while Buffalo returns home to host the Phoenix Coyotes at 7 PM