Bruins shooting straighter
A pair of goals by Paille spark second win in a row
BUFFALO - After Daniel Paille, one of the most snakebitten Bruins, tucked two first-period pucks behind Team USA’s presumed No. 1 netminder last night, it was almost certain that Ryan Miller would not allow such nonsense to continue.
“I know Ryan,’’ said Paille, the ex-Sabre. “He doesn’t like getting scored on, especially two in the first. He definitely wanted to do better for his team in the last two periods and in overtime.’’
Right on cue, after Paille’s second strike found the back of the net at 11:58 of the first period, Miller bricked up the cage. Through Periods 2 and 3, he turned aside all 19 Boston shots, then added four more saves in overtime, when the Bruins went on a four-on-three power play after Thomas Vanek was whistled for hooking.
But the Bruins, who saw their 2-0 lead blow up into a 2-2 tie by 18:35 of the second period, finally got some shootout luck to best one of the NHL’s sharpest netminders. Marco Sturm, Boston’s first shooter, beat Miller with a snap shot. Tuukka Rask, making his fourth straight start in the Boston net, brushed off a Jason Pominville leadoff goal and stopped Jochen Hecht, Tim Connolly, and Drew Stafford.
David Krejci, Boston’s No. 4 shooter, rewarded Rask by slipping a forehand shot between Miller’s pads to give the Bruins a 3-2 shootout victory before 18,690 at
“I thought we were going to see deja vu again in overtime with that four-on-three,’’ said coach Claude Julien, referring to last Thursday’s OT power play in a shootout loss to Montreal at TD Garden. “But at least we managed to find a way to win in the shootout.
“That’s a big extra point for us. We need those wins and we need those extra points. Sometimes they’re not always pretty. But they make up for the ones you think you should have had but never got.’’
One of the heroes was Paille, who found himself so far down on the Buffalo depth chart that he was traded to the Bruins for two picks (one conditional) last Oct. 20. Paille, skating with Marc Savard and Miroslav Satan, didn’t play that well in a 2-1 road loss to the Sabres Jan. 29. Yesterday morning, Julien pulled Paille aside to make sure he’d rebound.
“The last time we were in this building, he really had a tough night,’’ Julien said. “He was nervous coming back and playing here. Today, I told him, ‘You’ve just got to do what you do best.’ That’s skate and be on top of the puck all the time.’’
Prior to Paille’s first goal, he and his linemates worked the puck down low. Savard had the puck behind the net and left it for Paille. The left wing whirled around the net, scooped up the puck, curled around the net, and tucked a shot on goal that slipped by Miller at 4:51 of the first.
“No one was on me,’’ Paille said. “I saw an opportunity to go right at the net. I wrapped it and it went in.’’
Just over seven minutes later, Paille struck again. From the left point, after taking a pass from Derek Morris, Zdeno Chara hammered a slap shot on goal that deflected off Paille and beat Miller.
“The last couple games in this building, I didn’t really play very well,’’ said Paille. “Obviously I wanted to make a bit more of an impact today.
“Having the opportunity to play with Savvy and Miro is great. I’ve got to take advantage of that. I just took the puck to the net and went to the net. I just wanted to bury my chances.’’
It appeared, however, that Paille’s two-goal explosion wouldn’t stand up. After Milan Lucic (hooking) and Steve Begin (holding) were sent off within a 52-second span in the second period, the Sabres buried their five-on-three chance. With traffic in front, Derek Roy attacked from the slot and ripped a wrister over Rask’s glove at 4:35.
Late in the second, the Sabres tied the game with a kick-to-the-teeth goal. After Miller turned back an Andrew Ference scoring chance, the Sabres roared the other way, with first-year defenseman Tyler Myers leading the rush. The rookie cut into the slot, used Ference as a screen, and flung a wobbly wrister that Rask couldn’t glove, tying the game at 2-2 with 1:25 remaining.
“I saw it at the last second and didn’t make the save, so he just beat me,’’ Rask said.
But where the Bruins of last month might have caved, this time they stood tall in the third period and overtime. Rask turned back 12 shots in the third, including a last-minute wraparound by Pominville after Dennis Wideman coughed up the puck behind the net. By the end of overtime, Rask had stopped a career-high 43 shots.
“He’s enjoying his time right now,’’ said Chara. “He’s got a lot of confidence and making big saves.’’