Bruins act on a good tip to beat Sabres
This has not been an easy stretch for Gregory Campbell. The fourth-line Bruins center entered Thursday’s match without a point to his name in 19 straight games.
Then, after Campbell tipped a Shawn Thornton blast past Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth - his blade broke on the deflection - the referees had to call the war room in Toronto to make sure his stick wasn’t above the crossbar.
“At that point, you’re like, ‘Come on, not now,’ ’’ Campbell said with a smile. “But I was confident that my stick was below the crossbar.’’
Replay confirmed that Campbell hadn’t raised his stick too high. The goal, which tied the game at 1-1 at 18:09 of the second period, gave the Bruins the spike they needed. They rode that energy into the third period, when Johnny Boychuk and David Krejci beat Enroth, to claim a 3-1 win over the Sabres before 17,565 at TD Garden.
“Fitting that they scored the first goal and got us going,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “After they scored that goal, I thought the energy went up another notch. We just took it from there.’’
Campbell was rewarded because of three separate plays. First, he was in the right position on the forecheck to cause Christian Ehrhoff to hesitate. With Campbell taking away a passing lane, Ehrhoff looked to the middle for Cody Hodgson. But Ehrhoff’s pass clanged off Hodgson’s skate, sending the puck skittering to Thornton.
Second, Campbell skated directly to the front of the net, hopeful that Thornton would get a puck through.
Finally, Campbell placed his blade in the right spot to deflect the puck past Enroth.
Without Campbell’s strike, the Bruins would have entered the third period down by a goal.
At 16:39 of the first, Jason Pominville shot a bullet over Tim Thomas’s glove to give the Sabres a 1-0 lead.
Too often, the Bruins have been chasing the game in the third period instead of controlling it. But by being even with the Sabres instead of trailing, the Bruins continued to put the pressure on in the third.
One of the most thorough lines was one that hadn’t started the game together: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Jordan Caron.
For the fourth straight game, Brian Rolston started on the right wing alongside Marchand and Bergeron. Halfway through Thursday’s match, Julien mixed up his second and third lines.
Caron, who had two goals and an assist in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Toronto, had been playing with speed and confidence. With more offense and a heavier wall presence desired on the second line, Julien bumped Caron up to the second line. Rolston went down to the third line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot.
“I just felt that somewhere along the way, we needed a little bit more offense,’’ Julien said. “Since [Caron] has been going well, I wanted to see what that was going to give us.
“Rollie, I thought, was really good with that line with Kelly and Pouliot - some stability there and a little bit more experience on that line. Just the switch seemed to be more of a fit for tonight.’’
The move paid off.
In the third, Caron gained control of the puck along the right boards in the offensive zone. He lugged it to the net and tried a backhand pass out front for either Marchand or Bergeron.
Jordan Leopold hit the deck and deflected Caron’s pass. But the puck bounced off Leopold’s stick and slid out to the right circle. Boychuk stepped into the puck and hammered a rocket past Enroth at 12:56 of the third for the winning goal.
“I hit him in the belly a couple times,’’ Boychuk said. “So I just tried to put it on top.’’
The Bruins got some room to breathe later in the third. After corralling the puck in the defensive zone, the Bruins went on the attack.
Tyler Seguin got the puck to an in-stride Milan Lucic, and as Lucic barreled over the blue line, Krejci was right with him, driving to the net.
Once Lucic dished the puck to Krejci, the center didn’t hesitate. Before Enroth could slide over, Krejci snapped a shot into the net at 15:54.
The Bruins have won two straight for the first time since Jan. 10-12. They have played three solid games in a row, starting with a 3-2 loss to the first-place Rangers Sunday.
“Maybe it started in New York,’’ Krejci said. “We just wanted to play the same way the whole 60 minutes. That’s what we did today. We took it period by period.
“Even though we had a lead, we never sat back and kept playing. I thought it was a great 60-minute effort by everybody tonight.’’