Instead of ceding momentum, the Bruins created it anyways.
After appearing to have scored 20 seconds into the contest, Chris Wagner’s goal was called back. The Bruins scored anyways — also from Wagner — 10 minutes later, and never looked back, defeating the Sabres 2-1 to go 3-1 in the season series.
Despite Buffalo’s late comeback bid, the Bruins played a solid game on both sides of the ice. The Sabres got stronger late in the game when they had to put chances on net, but the Bruins held them off and continued to create offensive opportunities with 40-plus shots.
Wagner’s first goal was wiped off the board when the officials ruled goalie interference against Sean Kuraly. Per the NHL, “The actions of Boston’s Sean Kuraly impaired goaltender Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark’s ability to defend his goal.”
Kuraly went sliding into Ullmark at the side of the crease, but outside of it, while Wagner had an open net to shoot on. The Bruins challenged the call on the ice, but it failed, leaving the game scoreless early.
That was hardly going to stop Wagner.
He took a pass from Noel Acciari with 9:50 left in the frame to put the Bruins up, this time for real, 1-0.
The Bruins held the Sabres to a single shot through the first nine-plus minutes of the second period, while doubling their own lead.
Back from his three-game suspension David Backes went end-to-end following a Tuukka Rask save two minutes into the middle frame, and instead of going to his right to a streaking Bard Marchand, sniped top corner for his fourth goal of the season.
Rasmus Ristolainen found the net for the Sabres for the first time with 2:38 left in the game to make it a one-goal contest.
Ryan Donato and Backes each finished with five shots on goal, but trailed Wagner’s game-high and season-high of six, as he and his fourth line of Kuraly and Acciari created offense throughout the game.
Rask finished with 31 saves, including a couple of 2-on-1 stops on the NHL’s second leading scorer, Jeff Skinner. He also stopped the Sabres late surge with their goalie pulled even after surrendering the one Buffalo score at the end.
But for the most part, until the game got late and the Sabres pushed for more offensive zone time, the Bruins dominated getting pucks on net. Buffalo tallied late and continued to put on pressure with the game on the line.
It’s the second four-game winning streak of the Bruins season, and both of them have started against the Sabres. The B’s won in Buffalo on December 29 following two straight losses where they surrendered five goals. Since then, they won the Winter Classic, topped the first-place team in the West (Calgary) and toppled Buffalo again.
The Bruins will face Minnesota from TD Garden on Tuesday where they’ll seek their first five-game winning streak of the season.