Bruins 5, Sabres 2

In short, Bruins prevail

Sabres cannot take advantage

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 4, 2010

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BUFFALO — The way the puck hadn’t been bouncing for the snakebitten Brad Marchand, the rookie fully expected that his first goal, whenever it came, would be one of those fluky ones. Off a leg. Through a screen.

Not a shorthanded breakaway dangle.

In last night’s first period at HSBC Arena, with Michael Ryder serving a hooking penalty, Marchand got his chance. After Tim Connolly rimmed the puck to the invisible man at the left point, Marchand pulled away for a one-on-zero chance on Jhonas Enroth. Finally, at 3:32, Marchand recorded his first NHL strike.

“By this time, I just figured it was going to be a rebound or a greasy goal,’’ said Marchand. “It was nice to get one on a breakaway. Those always feel good.’’

It was the first of two first-period shorthanded goals for the Bruins. After Patrice Bergeron netted a man-down goal, Blake Wheeler jammed in a close-range shot, and Michael Ryder tucked a sharp-angle shot behind relief netminder Patrick Lalime, the Bruins had a 4-0 lead, which turned into a 5-2 win before 18,428.

“I thought we started decent ly and got ourselves a good lead,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We felt that we progressively got worse as the game went on. We got a little sloppy and got away from what’s made us a real good hockey club.

“You take the win. It’s a long year and those 2 points are important. You’re not always going to have the perfect game. But it’s something we have to make sure that next game, we don’t come out the same way. Because the team we’re going to be playing [Washington at the Verizon Center tomorrow] will certainly take advantage of it.’’

All four lines scored at least one goal. And, almost as an afterthought, Tim Thomas stopped 33 of 35 shots to post his seventh straight win, setting a club record for victories to open a season. Buffalo played its usual game of crease-crashing, but Thomas, with plenty of help from his defense (Adam McQuaid was credited with a team-high four blocked shots), stood tall to stymie the Sabres.

“When you’re done playing, people tend to forget about you,’’ said Thomas. “But maybe a little name here and there in the record books will remind people.’’

Buffalo, without Ryan Miller, turned to Enroth, recalled from Portland yesterday, in a bid for its first home win. But Enroth got little help from his reeling teammates. Connolly was at fault for Marchand’s goal because of his giveaway. Later in the first, with Dennis Seidenberg in the box for holding, the Bruins recorded their second shorthanded goal.

After the Buffalo power play turned back Marchand’s bid, Bergeron found the loose puck and attacked a soft spot between four Sabres. Paul Gaustad stepped in front of Bergeron’s initial attempt. But Bergeron found his own rebound before the Sabres could clear the puck, then whistled a wrister past Enroth at 14:54.

The Bruins completed their first-period flurry when Wheeler muscled past Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers to gain net-front position. As Wheeler made himself available, Ryder connected with his linemate. Wheeler tapped a short-range shot past a helpless Enroth at 16:54.

With Lalime replacing Enroth to start the second, the Bruins completed their equal-opportunity goaltender abuse. Ryder floated down the right wing and slipped a short-angle shot past Lalime at 2:11 to give the Bruins a 4-0 edge.

As expected, supreme agitator Patrick Kaleta did his dirty work in the second, triggering a flareup when he finished his check on Mark Stuart. The rugged defenseman responded by belting Kaleta, who drew a roughing penalty.

“Just don’t like him,’’ Stuart said.

Cody McCormick responded by engaging Stuart, who obliged the tough guy’s invitation. Both scrappers landed painful punches, with McCormick being tagged with an instigator and a 10-minute misconduct at 11:57.

Later in the second, Kaleta mixed it up again. This time, he targeted Milan Lucic after a whistle. Lucic answered with a glove-on right to Kaleta’s nose.

“I guess a couple guys came up to me after I tapped [Mike] Grier on that offside play,’’ said Lucic. “I stopped before I hit him. It’s pretty typical of [Kaleta] to come in late after a scrum.’’

Lucic drew a roughing minor. But referee Chris Lee, recognizing that tempers were flaring, banished Kaleta for 12 minutes (unsportsmanlike conduct, 10-minute misconduct).

“I think they made the right call on both of them,’’ Lucic said. “You never want to see a game get out of hand. There’s no need for line brawls or anything like that anymore. But you’ve got to do anything you can to stick up for yourself and for your teammates when things happen.’’

Buffalo finally solved Thomas at 16:39 when Stafford scored a power-play goal. Andrej Sekera made it a two-goal game at 15:26 of the third. But Lucic closed the deal with an empty-netter at 17:53.

“They’re frustrated, and rightfully so,’’ Julien said of the cellar-dwelling Sabres. “We’ve been through it before. It’s tough.’’

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