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Sabres 2, Bruins 1

Bruins missing the net

Early 2-goal lead enough for Sabres

The Sabres’ Toni Lydman has a run-in with the Bruins’ Miroslav Satan in the first period. The Sabres’ Toni Lydman has a run-in with the Bruins’ Miroslav Satan in the first period. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / January 30, 2010

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BUFFALO - Forget about Groundhog Day. The Bruins don’t need the calendar to read Feb. 2 for them to look like they are caught in constant replay, a bunch of befuddled and helmeted Bill Murrays repeating the same day, the same loss, over and over and over again.

Once more, for the fourth time in five games, the embattled Bruins connected for only one goal, and once again the lone marker was good for nothing but frustration. Final score last night at HSBC Arena: Sabres, 2-1. The Punxsutawney Bruins fell to 1-8-1 in their last 10 games, and though they cobbled together a respectable third period, with a 12-5 shot edge, they don’t look like a club that will find its way out of this horror flick anytime soon.

“Unfortunately,’’ said coach Claude Julien, “right now we are looking at end results as being really important.’’

In other words, it’s time for the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season last year to find a ripcord in this mind-numbing freefall. Their play is predictable, their overall execution and attack weak, their fate all but certain. Only a Milan Lucic goal, his first in more than two months, prevented them from being blanked at the side of Lake Erie, and by the time he nailed in a Marc Savard relay, the Sabres already had a pair of goals in the bank.

About the only chance of winning the Bruins have these days is to escape with a 1-0 victory, but that is something they haven’t done all season. Their record when scoring one goal: 0-13-2. It could be time to recruit Harold Ramis for a consult.

A critical part of the last night’s slip-and-fall was penalty trouble, yet another redundant theme the last three weeks. They were assessed three minors in the first period, the third of which led to a Thomas Vanek strike that proved to be the winner. Savard, back after missing eight games with a wrenched knee, was whistled for a high stick at 16:29 and Vanek’s 16th of the season was in the net only 63 seconds later.

“We just have to stay with it, and bounce back [tonight],’’ said Savard. The Kings this evening will be on Causeway Street, where the Bruins will try to prevent a seventh straight loss.

Earlier in the period, with only 4:01 gone, the Sabres struck for their first goal, Henrik Tallinder whistling a long-range wrister by the screened Tuukka Rask. Dennis Wideman, on the ice for all five Carolina goals last Sunday, was also present for the first by the Sabres, but he was just one of the many bodies that blocked Rask’s vision.

“I saw him getting the puck and I got myself in position,’’ said Rask. “But I didn’t see it until it was too late and I didn’t have time to react.’’

On the power-play strike, a Chris Butler blast from above the left circle didn’t make it through Rask, but Vanek was able to slip behind towering captain Zdeno Chara and tap the loose puck by Rask for the 2-0 lead.

“I was there with my stick, but he got it,’’ said Rask.

Opposition power plays aren’t killing the Bruins, not in terms of goals. But consider: In the last nine games, the Bruins have been awarded only 17 power plays, while the opposition totaled 34. That two-to-one disparity too often has the Bruins in defensive mode and it also proves that they don’t have the speed or offensive presence that requires the opposition to foul them. The Boston attack is without zip, without creativity, and perhaps worst of all, nothing to be the least bit feared. Each game plays out like videotape of the previous game that the opposition has dissected, the only variance based on what injured player, if any, has found his way back to the Boston bench on a given night.

Savard’s return helped produce the Lucic goal. With the hulking winger zipping down the left side of the slot and Miroslav Satan pushing toward the net, Savard flipped a cross-slot pass and Lucic nailed it by goalie Ryan Miller with a sharp wrister. Puck in the net. Scoresheet sealed for the night.

“Nice to get on the scoresheet with the goal,’’ noted Lucic, whose last tally came Nov. 23, the game before he exited for six weeks with a sprained ankle. “Hopefully I’ll get it going from there.’’

Feb. 2 is Tuesday. The Capitals are in town. We’ll know long before puck drop if the Bruins have seen their shadows.

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