BOSTON (AP) — A fast start and another solid outing by goaltender Tuukka Rask made for a fairly easy afternoon for the Boston Bruins.
Patrice Bergeron and Tim Schaller scored second-period goals Saturday to help the Bruins beat Buffalo 3-1 and complete a sweep of home-and-home games against the struggling Sabres.
“We played much better — better start,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We were playing with the lead, which makes a big difference. In the third period we played smart.”
The victory also gave Boston a sweep of its four-game season series against the Sabres. Buffalo was the only team the Bruins had never swept during a regular season. Buffalo lost 4-2 at home to Boston on Thursday.
Boston opened a 3-0 lead and Rask took care of the rest. He made 26 saves.
“It’s something we’ve talked about,” Rask said. “We want to get that first goal more often. I thought we came out really strong today — like we wanted to. It paid off today. It’s something we have to do more often.”
On Thursday, the Bruins fell behind 2-0 in the opening period.
Frank Vatrano scored the other goal for Boston, which had lost five of its previous nine games but improved to 12-1-2 in the last 15 meetings against the Sabres.
Jack Eichel, a former Boston University star and Hobey Baker winner, scored for Buffalo. Robin Lehner made 25 saves. It was the ninth loss in 11 games for the Sabres (2-5-4).
After the game, Eichel was visibly upset, slamming his equipment as he packed his bag, knocking a clock above his locker to the floor during his tirade. He didn’t speak to the media.
“I think every one of us should be,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said of Eichel’s feelings. “We should all find that desperation, that urgency, that anger.”
The Sabres are searching for anything to get them going.
“It’s frustrating now. Something has to change and it has to come from the inside,” Buffalo center Sam Reinhart said.
When asked how, he said: “It’s tough to say. You can talk all you want. It’s got to come from us, got to come from the start of the game, but it’s unacceptable. We’ve shown it.”
Leading 1-0, Bergeron one-timed Ryan Spooner’s pass by Lehner from the right circle for a power-play goal 7:04 into the period. Schaller scored 2:25 later when he came charging down the right wing and fired a backhander that slipped into the net between Lehner’s body and the near post.
Eichel scored his seventh goal with 21.2 seconds left in the second when he one-timed a shot from the right circle. Vatrano slipped a wrister inside the left post 1:28 into the game.
Lehner kept it to one goal in the opening period with a couple of nice stops. His best was when he flashed his right pad to rob Schaller, who was alone at the edge of the crease.
NOTES: The Bruins honored Denna Laing, a former women’s professional hockey player who suffered a career-ending spinal injury when she crashed into boards at Gillette Stadium the day before the 2016 NHL Winter Classic. Laing, 25, came onto the ice in her wheelchair and dropped the ceremonial first puck. She was given a standing ovation and got a hug from Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. She also visited the dressing room after the game and a number of players stopped by. . Boston also hung the jerseys of James Lavin and Owen Higgins on the glass behind their bench during pregame warmups. The 17-year-olds — high school hockey teammates from Falmouth, Massachusetts — were killed in a car accident in December coming home from practice. . The Bruins announced during the game that F David Backes was out “indefinitely” because of a concussion from a hit Thursday.
Sabres: Face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday is the second of a three-game trip.
Bruins: At New Jersey on Monday in the first of five of six on the road.