February 26, 2024


Boston bounced again from a pre-Christmas shedding streak to notch a powerful division win.

Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, proper, skates the puck away from Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson through the second interval of an NHL hockey recreation in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. AP

The Boston Bruins entered the vacation break as a hobbled bunch after dropping their final 4 contests.

After a powerful efficiency in opposition to the Buffalo Sabres, it appeared {that a} three-day hiatus was precisely what the Black and Gold wanted. The Bruins took the psychological and bodily reset and responded with a decisive 4-1 victory over their Atlantic Division foes.

“Simply shake the rust off for the primary couple of intervals and get our legs below us,” Morgan Geekie instructed reporters after notching one in all three Boston energy play objectives on the night. “I believed as the sport went on, we began to get some extra probabilities and play the fitting method.”

Mason Lohrei opened the scoring, crashing the online to bury a rebound previous Devon Levi to present Boston the lead simply 4:19 into Wednesday’s contest. 

Shortly thereafter, the Bruins have been compelled to kill off a four-minute man benefit for Buffalo. In a dominant particular groups efficiency, Boston handed its first of many exams. 

“Clearly, [the kill] was an enormous factor,” Jake DeBrusk mentioned following his first multi-point recreation of the season. “We have been in a position to rating on our flip proper after which is a whole change and shift within the recreation.”

The Bruins continued their sturdy particular groups efficiency, as Charlie Coyle discovered the again of the online following an excellent feed from DeBrusk for his first of two power-play objectives.

“I feel that we have been opportunistic at first,” DeBrusk added. “That first purpose was massive; clearly it was an ideal play within the impartial zone … particular groups can go both method. Penalty kill and issues like that, it gave us momentum.”

Boston continued to place the particular groups throttle down, gathering two extra power-play objectives through the center body. Coyle’s second of the evening – and twelfth of the season – put the Bruins up 3-0, with Geekie extending the result in 4-0 afterward. 

The Sabres acquired one again late, however Boston closed issues out to snap the four-game skid.

Right here’s what we realized because the Bruins acquired again on observe out of the vacation break. 

Boston’s particular groups units the slump-busting tone.

Whereas the Bruins seemed strong throughout five-on-five play, their particular groups play allowed them to snap their first four-game skid for the reason that 2019-20 marketing campaign. Boston went three-for-four on the person benefit and efficiently killed off all six of Buffalo’s energy performs. 

“We have been in a position to capitalize on the facility play sort of bang-bang,” DeBrusk mentioned. “We play a defensive system so once we get a few objectives…we’re a tricky workforce to return again on.”

Boston’s top-tier penalty kill, which hit a snag throughout its four-game skid, confronted a pivotal scenario early after Brad Marchand served 4 minutes within the field for a questionable cross-checking name and a subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

The Bruins snuffed out Buffalo’s momentum then and there, limiting the Sabres’ probability to even the competition. Boston’s shorthanded unit confronted one other hefty check on the finish of the second interval throughout a parade to the penalty field. The Bruins killed off a four-on-three and a five-on-three to maintain their 4-0 lead intact on the finish of 40 minutes of play.

Swayman bounces again

A staple of the Bruins’ success this season had been their goaltending bailing them out. Conversely, a staple of their current slide was their goaltending falling sufferer to quite a few defensive misgivings. 

In a uncommon prevalence final Friday, Swayman allowed 5 objectives in a blowout loss to Winnipeg – a slight hiccup in an in any other case Vezina-caliber season. 

“This league is so good. It can humble you in case you get snug,” Swayman mentioned as he loved some tasty Buffalo wings following his tenth win of the season. “That was the mindset I had moving into.”

Though the Sabres hardly examined Swayman, the fourth-year netminder supplied one other strong outing, stopping 25 of 26 pictures.

Swayman’s finest cease got here within the second interval as he denied a shot from J.J. Peterka on a bang-bang feed from Jack Quinn. However oddly sufficient, Boston’s high save of the evening didn’t come from Swayman.

McAvoy comes up massive with highlight-reel defensive play.

Within the second interval, Dylan Cozens fired a wrister up excessive on Swayman. The puck popped instantly up and over Swayman and commenced its descent into the Boston internet. 

That was till Charlie McAvoy had one thing to say about that.

In a last-ditch effort, McAvoy dove into Swayman’s crease, batting the puck out of midair and away from bother, saving a certain purpose in essentially the most dynamic method attainable. 

“Unbelievable,” Swayman mentioned. “I owe him a dinner. That’ll be a enjoyable one.”

For now, McAvoy must accept an honorary goalie hug from Swayman.

Such an honor is uncommon for anybody aside from Linus Ullmark, however memorable performs like McAvoy’s cease name for particular circumstances.