Bruins lose to Buffalo in shootout
BOSTON - The Boston Bruins paid tribute to those affected by the Boston Marathon bomb blasts, but then handed a game away to the Buffalo Sabres, dropping a 3-2 shootout decision Wednesday night in the first athletic event in the city since Monday's tragedy.
Cody Hodgson tied the game with a power-play goal with 26.6 seconds left and Drew Stafford then scored the only goal of the shootout as the Sabres kept their once-faint playoff hopes alive. Buffalo, winners of three straight, is two points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.
By capping an emotional night with the emotional loss, the Bruins still got a point and moved into a tie with the losing Montreal Canadiens in the race for the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Boston still owning a game in hand with less than two weeks left in the lockout-shortened season.
With the crowd as loud as it has been since the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup in 2011, chants of "Let's Go Bos-ton," "We Are Bos-ton" and "U-S-A" could be heard as the home team rallied behind the "Boston Strong" motto that has taken hold since Monday and seemingly was on its way to a win. But Ryan Miller stopped 41 shots and all three in the shootout and the visitors pulled it out.
When the game ended, both teams gathered at center ice and gave a stick salute to the crowd.
Chris Kelly (No. 3, 100 career) and Daniel Paile (No. 9) set each other up for goals and Anton Khudobin stopped 30 shots in 65 minutes, but he gave up one goal on three attempts in his first career shootout.
Tomas Vanek, who had a hat trick and two assists the other time the Sabres were in town, tied the game in the first period with his 17th goal of the year, but Kelly scored with 5:12 left in the second period to break the tie. Vanek then set up Hodgson's 14th goal of the year to tie it, sending Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference from hero to goat.
Minutes after making a sliding stop behind Khudobin to rob Stafford, Ference accidentally flipped the puck out of play and took a delay of game penalty with 48.8 seconds left.
The Bruins, who killed three penalties, one a double minor to Milan Lucic, in the first half of the third period, were bolstered by the return of both Patrice Bergeron (six games) and Brad Marchand (two) from concussions, Bergeron's the fourth of his career. But it wasn't enough.