BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After 52-plus minutes of scoreless hockey, the Boston Bruins remained patient.
They were rewarded for that mindset Sunday night.
David Krejci scored with 7:06 remaining, and Nathan Horton added some insurance with 4:16 left to lead the Boston Bruins to a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center.
The Bruins (22-8-4) have been inconsistent recently, going 2-4-1 in the seven games leading up to Sunday, but their focus against the Sabres resulted in a gritty, hard-fought road victory.
"When things haven't really been going for us, we've kind of got frustrated and let it get the better of us," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "But today, we just tried to stay positive and tried to stick with the game plan and stay patient, and it worked out for us."
In particular, the Bruins focused on going hard to the net, and both of their goals came in front of the Buffalo crease.
After more than two periods of scoreless play, Krejci broke the deadlock on a rebound. Horton skated hard toward the net, and after his backhand shot was stopped by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, Krejci put the loose puck into the open net to finally get the Bruins on the board. It wasn't Krejci's eighth goal of the season.
Krejci also set up Horton's goal three minutes later. The center raced up the left side of the ice and found Horton camped in front of the Buffalo net for an easy tap-in, Horton's 11th goal.
"It was about staying positive and sticking with the game plan and doing the right things, but every period we talked about getting a little better in certain areas, and guys answered well," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "After the second period, we needed a better net-front presence and better net drive, and I think when you look at the goals, that's what happened."
Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was terrific, making 26 saves to pick up his second career shutout. One of Khudobin's best saves came on a two-on-one opportunity just past the midway point in the first period. Buffalo's Tyler Ennis deked to his forehand on a break with teammate Marcus Foligno, but Khudobin came up with the pad save.
"He was unbelievable," said Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who picked up his first career point on Krejci's goal. "The first 10 minutes, we wouldn't have won the game if he didn't play that well. They should have had three or four goals, definitely. ... That first 10 minutes was huge."
The Sabres (13-17-6) had several chances in the Boston end but were unable to get any pucks past Khudobin. Buffalo's struggles on the power play continued against the Bruins, with the Sabres going 0-for-4 with the extra man. Heading into the game, the Sabres were 27th in the league at just 13.5 percent on the power play.
Sabres interim coach Ron Rolston was generally pleased with Buffalo's effort, though, despite his team's inability to find the back of the net.
"I thought that was probably one of our best games since I've been here," Rolston said. "We played a complete game, had a couple mistakes there at the end. But we didn't take a penalty the whole game. I thought that was one of our best team games since we've been here, hands down."
Miller, who agreed with Rolston, had 29 saves for Buffalo.
"I thought we played pretty good," Miller said. "I thought we played the game we needed to play. We didn't bury, not for lack of trying. I thought the guys made some good plays. We were right there."
With the victory, the Bruins now have 48 points and are four points ahead of the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs for fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Boston also has one game in hand on Ottawa, two on Toronto. The Bruins are one point behind Montreal for the Northeast Division lead.
"Whether it's been at home or on the road, we haven't been playing that well (lately), so it's important just to play our game again," Julien said.
NOTES: Buffalo's Steve Ott left the game briefly in the first period after getting checked into the boards by Zdeno Chara. He returned a short time later. ... Sabres forward Thomas Vanek missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Vanek is Buffalo's leading scorer with 33 points in 29 games. ... Buffalo's Ville Leino sat out after suffering an upper-body injury late in Saturday's loss to Washington. Leino is day-to-day. ... Aaron Johnson and Lane MacDermid were scratched by the Bruins. ... Miller tied a franchise record for most games played by a Buffalo goaltender by making his 491st start. Miller's next start will place him ahead of former Sabres great Dominik Hasek. ... This was the fourth of five meetings between the Sabres and Bruins this season and the 267th game all-time between the two clubs. Buffalo leads the series 116-111-40 overall. The teams are 2-2 this year
By Mark Ludwiczak, The Sports Xchange
Publish Date: March 31, 2013 11:32:01 PM
Two late goals push Bruins past Sabres
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