January 31, 2013

Postgame Breakdown: Bruins killer Vanek puts on a clinic

By Jesse Connolly

Sabres winger Thomas Vanek shouts, 'Bro, give me a hat!' to Tuukka Rask after scoring his third goal of the game against the Bruins netminder. (Getty Images)

Final: Buffalo 7 (jeez!), Boston 4

Recap: After a first period that saw the Bruins outshoot the visiting Sabres 14-9, John Scott land all 11-or-so punches thrown in a fight with Shawn Thornton and Boston squander two power play chances, the two teams headed to the second scoreless. A combined 11 goals were scored over the final 40 minutes.

Boston took a 3-1 lead on Brad Marchand’s second strike in the span of 3:11 (hey, there’s a band with that name!) midway through the middle frame. Thomas Vanek’s second of the night with 3:14 to go in the period cut the lead to one. The Austrian winger then had the fancy primary assist on Tyler Ennis’ tally with 1:41 to go, knotting things up.

In the third, David Krejci’s crafty stick-handling fooled a defender and gave him the room necessary to wrist a shot past Ryan Miller, putting the B’s back in front. It didn’t last long. Alex Sulzer made it 4-4 just 43 seconds later, and Cody Hodgson gave Buffalo a 5-4 lead at 6:54 of the third.

Vanek notched the hat trick and his fifth point of the contest when he scored a deke-tastic insurance goal with 1:31 remaining. Jason Pominville closed out the scoring with an empty-netter.

Records: Buffalo 3-3-1, seven points; Boston 5-1-1, 11 points

Key Play of the Game: When the Bruins entire band of blueliners played as though none of them had yet to finish reading Chapter One of “Defense for Dummies.” So, basically, almost every shift from the start of the second period on.

Connolly’s Commendations: That Vanek guy’s a pretty alright hockey player.

Kudos to Tuukka Rask. He was hung out to dry and managed to keep from getting stolen off the clothesline.

Connolly’s Critiques: Shame on virtually all attempts by anyone wearing black and gold to play defense.

Unofficial stat: Milan Lucic squandered 47 scoring chances tonight. No. 17 had the chance to stick it in Miller’s face countless times but couldn’t find twine.

That was one of the roughest games I’ve ever seen Zdeno Chara play in a Bruins’ uniform. Just about everything went wrong for the B’s captain, whose aim in the passing department seemed to be off the mark all night long.

Notes: Shawn Thornton left the game and did not return following the fight with Scott. Danny Paille took a high stick in the face late in the game and, like Thornton, is also being evaluated. Lane MacDermid saw just 4:12 of ice time in his season debut.

Final Thoughts: At times, the Bruins were putting on a clinic offensively. Unfortunately, the Sabres -- well, Vanek mostly -- proved to be far better at it this evening. Boston’s defense, as Claude Julien described it after the game, was “brain dead.” Furthermore, Ryan Miller made some pretty fantastic saves in the final half of the third period, just when the B’s really needed a goal the most.

Next: The Bruins will head to Toronto to take on the Leafs Saturday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com