Boyes back with a bang

Ex-Bruin has been a real Sabre savior

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / March 11, 2011

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Brad Boyes’s NHL journey really got started in Boston and he was back in town last night, popping in the winning goal at 3:44 of overtime to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 victory over the Bruins at TD Garden.

Boyes topped off the Sabres’ second comeback of the game, after they rallied from a 2-0 first-period deficit to tie it up in the second, then bounced back from a 3-2 disadvantage with a power-play goal at 5:05 of the third.

These are turbulent times for the Bruins, dealing with the fallout from Zdeno Chara’s devastating hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal and the reaction in Canada to the NHL’s decision not to suspend Chara. The Sabres, meanwhile, are tied with the Rangers for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Given a second chance in this game, they pounced on the 2 points.

And it was Boyes, who played a single game for the Sharks before he was traded to Boston in 2004, who finished off the Bruins. More than halfway through overtime, another former local, Nathan Gerbe (Boston College), slipped past the Bruins defense to tee up a shot at Tim Thomas from 30 feet. Gerbe rushed in for the rebound, scooped the puck toward the net, and Boyes drove in from the right side to tap in his 15th goal of the season.

“I’m thinking, ‘Don’t miss it,’ ’’ said Boyes. “I was thinking just try to get everything, my whole body, in the way in case it bounces. It’s tough ice there at the end. I’ve got to make sure that whatever happens, it’s not going wide.’’

The Bruins traded Boyes to St. Louis in 2007 for defenseman Dennis Wideman, and the Blues sent Boyes to Buffalo on Feb. 27 for the Sabres’ second-round pick this year. Boyes scored in his first game as a Sabre and has three goals and three assists in six games.

“I enjoy it here,’’ said Boyes. “I think it’s been a good move, I’m excited. When I came over, that was my thought, just be excited. I’m coming back to what I enjoy doing — scoring goals, winning games, things like that. That’s what I’m trying to do.’’

In his first full season with the Blues, Boyes scored 43 goals, followed by 33 goals in the 2008-09 campaign. But then his offense fell off; he scored only 14 times in 2009-10, and had just 12 goals in 62 games this season prior to the trade. So the 28-year-old, who picked up his 32d assist on Tim Connolly’s tying goal in the third period, was glad for a change of scenery.

“It’s always nice when you play against your former team, in your old building, and you get that goal,’’ said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff. “He had a couple of other opportunities that went by the wayside, but he’s done a very nice job for us. There is a reason he has scored the number of goals he did.

“I think we have him down around the net a little bit more and maybe a little bit bigger role. He seems to be putting them in for us.’’

Boyes played a full season and most of the ’06-07 season for the Bruins before he was abruptly traded to St. Louis. No hard feelings.

“I’ve had some great memories here. I loved playing here, it was a lot of fun,’’ Boyes said. “Being in the West for the last four years, I didn’t get to come here too often. It’s nice to come back here and contribute, too.’’

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