Craig Smith scored the go-ahead goal with 3:50 remaining in the third period to propel the host Boston Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the skidding Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon.
Matt Grzelcyk scored one goal, Nick Ritchie collected a goal and an assist and Dan Vladar finished with 25 saves for the Bruins, who have won three of their past four games. Boston played without star forward Brad Marchand after he was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list.
Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart each scored and Linus Ullmark turned aside 33 shots for the Sabres, who extended their franchise-worst winless skid to 17 games (0-15-2).
Ullmark was playing his first game since sustaining a lower-body injury in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 25. Interim head coach Don Granato and assistant Matt Ellis also returned to the Sabres after clearing COVID-19 protocol.
David Krejci kept the puck alive during a scrum before Smith beat Ullmark from in close to give Boston a 3-2 lead. The goal was Smith’s sixth of the season and second against Buffalo.
Buffalo took advantage of Vladar misplaying the puck behind his own net to open the scoring 2:01 into the first period. Reinhart immediately swooped in and backhanded the puck into the net for his team-leading 12th goal of the season and the Sabres’ first power-play tally in 16 games.
Grzelcyk forged a tie at 11:41 of the second period after his wrist shot from the point handcuffed Ullmark. The goal was his second of the season.
Okposo regained the advantage for the Sabres 2 1/2 minutes later while competing in his first contest since returning from a three-game absence due to a neck injury. Defenseman Henri Jokiharju’s shot from the point produced a juicy rebound for Okposo, who converted from the doorstep for his second goal of the season.
Ritchie ended an eight-game point drought by cleaning up a fortunate carom off an intended centering feed from defenseman Charlie McAvoy. The goal was Ritchie’s ninth of the season.
–Field Level Media