David Legwand (17) scores his first-period goal Friday on Boston goalie Jonas Gustavsson. ©2016, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Third period dooms Sabres in loss to Bruins

BUFFALO – Those good feelings the Sabres created earlier this week by winning two straight road games vanished Friday in a mostly boring, uninspired 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins inside a quiet First Niagara Center.

In No. 1 goalie Robin Lehner’s return after missing more than three months with a high ankle sprain, the Sabres lost for the for the seventh time in nine games and dropped their 16th home contest (8-14-2).

Graying veteran David Legwand’s third goal this season and first in 20 games opened the scoring in the first period. But the Sabres missed some golden opportunities to seize the game early in the second period, blowing three straight power plays after Matt Beleskey tied it 1:01 into the period.

Zdeno Chara’s wrist shot past a screened Lehner 29 seconds into the third period held up as the winner.

“We didn’t play a bad game, but we didn’t play a good game, either,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “We got to look at ourselves and figure out what it is. We didn’t do enough to win.”

The Sabres, who host the NHL-leading Washington Capitals tonight, are 9-9-2 on the road but have the most home losses in the league.

To make matters worse, the Sabres lost winger Zemgus Girgensons to an upper-body injury in the first period. The Latvian will likely miss tonight’s contest, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. The Sabres plan to recall a forward from the Rochester Americans.

Girgensons was injured when he hit Kevan Miller. Bylsma said the Sabres might have an update today.

The Sabres have scored just one goal or been shut out in 14 of their 44 games this season. Their ninth-ranked power play has buoyed them at times, but the units didn’t do much Friday before the 18,704 fans.

“We got to take advantage of those,” Gionta said. “It’s part of the game. It makes or breaks games.”

He added: “They kept it tight. They blocked a lot. They kind of kept us to the outside. Anything that did get through was back on the outside.”

The Bruins sealed just their third win in 11 games with goals from Ryan Spooner and Brett Connolly (empty net).

If the Sabres are looking for a silver lining, Lehner performed strongly and played a 60-minute NHL game for the first time since Feb. 14, 2015, two days before he suffered a season-ending concussion.

“It tough to lose, but I think there was a lot of positives in the game, too, for me, personally,” Lehner said. “I felt like I was pretty calmed and controlled out there and played the puck most of the night pretty well.”

The Swede’s right ankle, which he injured 28 minutes into his Sabres debut opening night, Oct. 8, held up fine during his 27-save performance.

“I felt like my foot could hold 60 minutes,” said Lehner, who was acquired from Ottawa for a first-round pick June 26. “I felt like I’m getting better every day now.”

Bylsma added: “I thought he looked real good and real (in) control through the first period.”

Backup goalie Chad Johnson will likely start tonight, Bylsma said.

2 thoughts on “Third period dooms Sabres in loss to Bruins”

  1. The FNC has become an uninspired morgue to be playing in. The players must feel it. Everything about it is dead. The only time it seems to come to life is when it’s artificially resuscitated with either a goal or one of the incessant attempts to pump up the crowd with lights or music or artificial crowd noises I suspect.

    The whole game experience has got to be changed from top to bottom. The crazed fans are there but the experience is deadening.

  2. Mr. Pegula

    Mr. Murry has permaturely traded many of our top picks and prospects. They were supposed to add to our core over the next 2 or 3 years as we became true contenders. Instead we have given up.
    Brayden McNabb (top 2 d-man in LA) for N. Deslaurier and college prospect Hudson Faching.
    Myers, Stafford, Lemieux, Armia and first rounder Jack Roslovic who has started his college career at a point a game for Kane and Bogosian. Stafford has outplayed Kane and Myers has out played Bogosian but look at all the other high end talent we gave. I think the worst trade in the history of the Buffalo Sabres.
    Colin White who looked dynamic (certainly looks like a future top 6 forward) on the US national junior team in Finland for David Legwand and a goalie that has won 30 games in his career. None in almost a year. We already had a potential future goaltender in Michael Neuvirth who last time I looked was second in safe percentage in the NHL but who we traded away for Chad Johnson.
    I will give him credit for the one good trade that he has made for O’Reilly but we did pay dearly in that trade too.
    Picking Reinhart and Eichel were no brainers and certainly no indicator of a shrewd GM. But instead of being able to build on that we have lost the infusion of talent that perhaps would have put us over the top in the next 3 and 4 years.
    The buy out of C Ehrhoff was also very questionable.
    Dan Bylsma has done an alright job coaching but Ted Nolan achieved as much to this point last year with Murray trying to weaken the team at every turn. I believe that also cost us a second rounder.
    We have a core of Eichel, Reinhart, O’Reilly Girgensons, Larsson and Kane(if his name is cleared)up front and Ristolainen, McCabe, Pysyk and Bogosian on the back end. The entire group is young and will get better but they need time.
    There is not room for both Ennis and Gionta on this team. Pick one. It is the same for Deslaurier and Foligno. So let one go from each pair for your trade options. You could throw Weber and Franson in there as trade bait too. Please don’t let Murray give away any more prospects We should have a great pick in 2016 and perhaps Bailey or Baptiste will emerge as a contributor to the core group. But the core group needs another 2 or 3 years and sadly Tim Murray has really hurt the influx of young talent we will get over the next couple of years.
    The plan should have been for our young group to get better as the year progressed realizing that we are still a couple of years away and there confidence would have grown too. Instead Murray went for it this year and has severely hurt our team over the next few years and we are no closer to contending this year then we were last year. It is also hard on the team’s psychological state as we put pressure on them to win this year which obviously is not happening.
    Mr Murray over values his old picks from the Ottawa days and has severely undervalued the picks that we had gained through the last few very painful years. For the first time since 1970 I am rethinking my loyalty to Buffalo. I could live with the bad years when I thought there was hope. It was a good plan that D. Regier started but Murray has absolutely made all that loosing for nothing.

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