Bruins backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg made 13 saves to earn his second victory of the season, both against Buffalo. Enroth had 34 saves.
The Bruins outshot the Sabres 34-14 in regulation and enjoyed a huge offensive-zone time differential, yet had to rally twice to force overtime.
In the second period, the Bruins outshot the Sabres 10-3, but two of Buffalo's offerings found the back of the net. The Sabres converted their first power-play goal of the season at the 5:12 mark when Drew Stafford beat Svedberg. After McQuaid tied it at 1-1, Stafford, whose goal was assisted by Tyler Ennis, returned the favor at 16:25 of the second period, earning a helper on Ennis' even-strength goal to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead.
At 14:30 of the third period, Marchand redirected Loui Eriksson's blast past Enroth to pull the Bruins even at 2-2, setting the stage for the overtime heroics.
Young D-men join the fray: With Torey Krug joining fellow injured defensemen Zdeno Chara and Kevan Miller on the sidelines, the Bruins' blue line is forced to rely more on young, inexperienced players to fill up the lineup behind Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg and McQuaid. Boston recalled Joe Morrow and David Warsofsky from Providence on Wednesday, and they were in the lineup Thursday, with Matt Bartkowski the healthy scratch. Making his NHL debut, Morrow logged 17:51 of ice time. Warsofsky logged 18:09 of ice time in his season debut for the Bruins, after appearing in six games last season. Meanwhile, Zach Trotman played his third game of the season for Boston. The newbies acquitted themselves well, giving the Bruins time to eventually capitalize in the offensive zone against the Sabres.
What's next: Thursday's win leaves the Bruins at 6-6-0 for the month of October. They return to Boston and kick off a four-game homestand at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Ottawa Senators, with visits from the Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils on deck. In all, the Bruins have 12 games in November to try to make some headway in the standings.
The Kings have been performing roster gymnastics this week, going a player short in Philadelphia on Tuesday because of short-term injuries and the $4.16 million cap hit from suspended defenseman Slava Voynov.
They were able to call up a player under emergency conditions Thursday -- forward David Van der Gulik (the rule is any player making $650,000 or less). But the long-term issue of Voynov’s cap hit remains.
The Kings and the league’s head office spoke again this week, and the league indicated it was open to finding a cap relief solution for the club, according to a source.
However, that would require NHLPA agreement. Right now, the players’ union is concerned that any kind of cap relief on the Voynov matter would lead to more escrow for the players at large (because any player replacing Voynov's cap hit adds to the overall players' share).
From the NHLPA’s perspective, right now it’s the players, and the players only, who would be paying for the cap relief solution.
So for now, the Kings are stuck in the middle of this NHL-NHLPA back-and-forth.
Obviously, as the criminal matter involving Voynov moves along, should the NHL ever decide the situation warranted suspending Voynov without pay, then that changes things. He would no longer be earning money against the players’ share, and the Kings certainly would get cap relief.
The Kings do get sympathy from some NHL clubs on the matter.
"I don’t think it’s fair for them to get squeezed on the cap for something a player allegedly did that had nothing to do with hockey," one NHL general manager told ESPN.com, a comment echoed by other team executives I spoke with.
The fact is, this is unchartered territory for everyone involved. No easy answers here.
The league and the NHLPA not only need to find a solution to this case, but to similar future cases.
KINGS IN TALKS WITH MARTINEZ
Preliminary talks have begun between the Kings and pending unrestricted free-agent defenseman Alec Martinez's agent, Alex Schall.
Jake Muzzin recently signed a new deal that will pay him $4 million a season starting next year. The sense is the Kings would like to get Martinez below Muzzin's $4 million AAV; the Martinez camp have comparables that suggest he’s worth $4 million or more -- at least on the open market.
Martinez wants to sign an extension and remain with the Kings, no question about it, but the knowledge that he could score big on a weak July 1 UFA market is something that’s a reality, in case talks don’t progress.
The expectation is that the Kings will step up efforts in talks during the next two or three weeks.
Given how well the Kings have handled contract talks with their players during the past couple of years, my guess is that they will find a happy medium here and get this done. But it’s certainly an interesting one, especially when you consider that restricted free agents Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli will be due raises from their expiring entry-level deals as well. Lots of moving parts here for the Kings.
Never in his worst nightmares did first-year Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis ever think the season would start with eight losses in eight games (0-6-2).
"No, definitely not," Francis told ESPN.com Thursday. "We've had more than our share of bumps here early on. But we'll keep working at it and find a way."
A number of key injuries have contributed to the slow start. Jordan Staal remains out long term with a broken leg.
Meanwhile, teams that start this rough usually find themselves getting the kind of attention from other GMs they’d rather not get. Brian Burke used to refer to those calls as teams offering anchor deals.
So yes, the phone has been ringing, but nothing that interests Francis so far.
"Nobody is really looking to make a hockey trade at this point, more to move bad contracts or things in our eyes that don’t make sense for us," Francis said. "We have to roll up our sleeves and find a way to make ourselves better short term, but the key is also not losing sight of what we're trying to do here long term and not sacrifice that."
As far as those Eric Staal trade rumors, which were ignited a few weeks ago, there’s nothing there at this stage.
"I've not had any conversations with anybody regarding Eric this season," Francis said. "To say you would or wouldn’t trade anybody moving forward, I think it’s the same I’ve said all along, if there’s a deal that makes sense for us, then you have to consider everything that makes your team better short term or long term. But I haven’t had any conversations [on Eric Staal] at this point."
STEWART TRADE WILL COME
It’s not a matter of if, but rather when, the Buffalo Sabres flip pending UFA Chris Stewart.
There’s nothing imminent as far as we can tell. We reported earlier that the Boston Bruins have him as one of their targets, and another Atlantic Division team, the Ottawa Senators, had talks earlier this month with the Sabres. The Senators tried to acquire him before the trade deadline last spring. They spoke again to Buffalo a few weeks back but nothing came of it.
The Bruins, meanwhile, have been hammered on defense by injuries, so perhaps their need would be best served there, but a source said Thursday that Boston’s plan right now is to ride this out, knowing that within a month or so, most of their injured defensemen will be healthy. No panic trade in store.
Interesting to note that even before the tragic events in Ottawa last week, the NHL actually sent out a security memo a few weeks ago to all 30 teams reminding them of the importance of following protocol at each rink and to ensure security was as tight as possible.
And you can imagine that the NHL and NHLPA already have had talks about enhanced security measures for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic in Washington, D.C.
League security also relayed to players in preseason meetings the importance of staying vigilant and to be aware of their surroundings. In other words, players were warned of the possibility of a terrorist attack at an NHL rink.
"They prepared us for any kind of event. On the one hand it’s kind of scary, but on the other hand it’s really smart, too," one player said to ESPN.com.
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Things continue to crumble for the Boston Bruins.
Injuries have become the team's Mount Vesuvius, so it'll be interesting to see how the Bruins can rise from the early-season ashes and keep themselves in contention.
Already the Bruins are without defensemen Zdeno Chara (out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury), Kevan Miller (out indefinitely with a dislocated right shoulder) and now Torey Krug (out 2-3 weeks with a broken finger).
Prior to the team's practice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena as it prepares to face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York, Bruins coach Claude Julien discussed with his players the importance of staying within the structure, no matter how many injuries there are, or how many lineup changes are made.
"We're still a team looking for its identity as a group, because every time you think you stabilize yourself, now we have more injuries," Julien said. "We go back to where we were at the beginning when we had guys in different places, and unfortunately it's all in the same position. It represents a bit of a challenge, but it doesn't mean that it's a crutch. It's an opportunity for others and when you rely on your structure and you believe in it, which our guys seem to believe in it and they have for years, you've just got to go out there and compete hard."
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Not only are the Boston Bruins without the services of defensemen Zdeno Chara (knee), Kevan Miller (shoulder) and Torey Krug (finger), but forward Brad Marchand exited Wednesday's practice early and did not return.
Afterward, Bruins coach Claude Julien did not have an update on Marchand.
"I don't know," Julien said. "Obviously, he tweaked something and I'm not going to say more than that, because we hope he'll be in our lineup [Thursday]."
The Bruins will face the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Prior to leaving Wednesday's practice, Marchand had been moved from the second line to the third line, along with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson. Marchand has one goal and two assists for three points, while sporting a minus-1 in 11 games this season.
Julien tweaked his lines at practice this morning at Ristuccia Arena. Here are the sweater combinations:
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Seth Griffith
Chris Kelly-Patrice Bergeron-Simon Gagne
Brad Marchand-Carl Soderberg-Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Reilly Smith/Matt Fraser
“Every team, every coach does that,” Julien said of the changes. “Obviously, there are some guys that aren’t quite playing at their level and they’re struggling to find their game. Some are just line combinations, so you make changes.”
Despite a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night at TD Garden, Griffith scored two goals and assisted the another for the Bruins. The second-year pro has impressed since the start of training camp, and since he has the ability to make plays as a natural right wing, Bruins coach Claude Julien thought Griffith would be a good fit alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Both of Griffith’s goals against the Wild resulted from the 5-foot-9, 192-pounder crashing the net with reckless abandon. He played with a mentality of “it’s either score a goal or it’s death by goalpost.”
Griffith scored his second goal, giving Boston a 2-1 lead, at 5:23 of the second period. Lucic made a nice play at the blue line to get the puck to Gregory Campbell, who showed patience and waited for a sprawling defender to take himself out of the play. Campbell then fed a streaking Griffith, who slammed home the goal and then tumbled through the air before crashing into the end wall.
Griffith later assisted on Lucic’s power-play goal to give Boston a 3-1 lead, one the Bruins would relinquish as the Wild scored three unanswered goals in the third period.
Griffith was more concerned with the loss than his solid performance.
“It’s kind of hard to be happy,” Griffith said. “Obviously, the win is more important. It’s too bad we didn’t have a very good third.”
As critical as Julien was of the team’s overall game, the coach was pleased with Griffith’s effort.
“Well, that’s probably the brightest thing of the night for us, was the fact that Seth really played a strong game,” Julien said. “That line last year scored a lot of goals from guys driving the net, and he did a great job of driving the net every time. He got rewarded for it and he also made a nice play there on Looch’s goal. If there’s somebody that should be walking out of here with his head up high, it’s him.”
After former Bruins right winger Jarome Iginla signed with the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent on July 1, Boston had a vacancy on its top line. Julien and Krejci both said they were excited with the possibility of Loui Eriksson moving up to the right side, but after Krejci suffered an undisclosed injury and missed the first three games of the season, Julien was forced to reunite Eriksson with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly.
That trio quickly regained its chemistry from a season ago, so when Krejci returned, Griffith was given an opportunity on the top line. Krejci has been impressed with his new linemate.
“It’s good to see him get two goals, especially goals like that that he drives the net, so that’s what you want from your teammate, to drive the net,” Krejci said. “Looch did the same thing, so if some guy drives the net that means it opens up some room for our players. I thought he played well. Hopefully he can build on this and play the same way the next game.”
As a result, the Bruins have recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and David Warsofsky from Providence of the AHL, and both will practice with the team Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena.
The Bruins are already without defensemen Zdeno Chara (knee) and Kevan Miller (shoulder). Morrow was recalled to Boston last Friday, was a healthy scratch for one game and assigned to Providence on Sunday. He's played in seven games for the P-Bruins, with one goal and one assist.
This is the first recall of the season for Warsofsky. He's played in seven games for the P-Bruins this season. He played in six games for the Bruins last season.
BOSTON -- There’s a chink in the armor.
That doesn’t bode well for the Boston Bruins.
For a team built on defense, it’s alarming that the Bruins uncharacteristically have suffered numerous breakdowns this season. It continued Tuesday as the Minnesota Wild scored three unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory at TD Garden.
It would be easy to blame the absence of captain Zdeno Chara, who will be sidelined four to six weeks with a torn ligament in his left knee, for the defensive deficiencies, but the veteran defenseman has missed only two games since he suffered the injury this past Thursday. The breakdowns have been occurring all season.
“The offense has been good. The power play’s been great,” said Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who faced a season-high 42 shots Tuesday. “We’re really driving the net and crashing the net, but then it doesn’t really matter when the defensive side of your game is the one that gets the worst out of that, so we have to be well-balanced in the future.”
Rask has never played with this type of lackadaisical defense in front of him during his career in Boston. Sure, it happens from time to time, but never to this extent.
“This season it’s been more than ever before,” he said of the breakdowns.
Poor defensive positioning, losing puck battles in front of the net and allowing opponents to get sticks on loose pucks have been far too common in front of Rask.
“That’s kind of alarming a little bit,” Rask said of the mistakes in front. “It’s really simple. It all comes down to protecting the house, collapsing down low and keeping the [opposition] outside. As goalies, we like to expect that we make those saves when they come from the outside, and maybe even the second save, but when pucks end up behind us and guys are banging in loose pucks, it makes it difficult.”
The breakdowns can’t be blamed solely on the defensemen. When forwards don’t win puck battles along the walls and can’t successfully break out of the zone, it can cause chaos. That was the case against the Wild.
In the first 11 games of the season, the Bruins have allowed a total of 320 shots and have a 5-6-0 record. At the start of the 2013-14 season, with a completely healthy defense, the Bruins allowed 313 shots and jumped out to a 7-4-0 record. Any goalie and any coach will tell you it’s not about how many shots you allow; it’s about minimizing the quality chances and clearing out the traffic in front.
“The way mistakes are happening for us sometimes is unacceptable,” Rask said. “We really have to be better in front of our net. Way too many goals have been scored right there. We’ve talked about it, but it’s just not good enough right now. The 40 shots I’m not too worried about -- it’s the style [in which] we give them up that is pretty bad sometimes.”
When the Bruins are at their best, the solid defense leads to a quality offense. But that hasn’t been the case so far this season. Boston needs to tighten up its own end as an entire five-man unit, close off passing lanes, work harder along the boards and have better breakouts with crisper passes.
“That’s how we’ve always been, but lately, that hasn’t been the case," Rask said. "It’s been costing us."
The Bruins entered the third period Tuesday night with a 3-0-0 record this season when leading by two goals. In fact, Boston routinely has been the better team in the third period since the start of the 2010-11 season and has a 136-7-6 record when leading by two goals.
That changed against the Wild.
“It’s the worst lead in hockey, right? That’s what they say,” Rask said. “You let up, even for a minute, [and] bad things can happen. We take that penalty (Brad Marchand for holding) early in the third, and they took the momentum. Then they kept it for the next 10 minutes and got a couple of goals out of it. It evened out after that, and a bad bounce ends up costing us the game.”
Not having Chara and fellow defenseman Kevan Miller (shoulder) in the lineup for the foreseeable future will have a negative effect on the Bruins. But others simply need to play better.
Dougie Hamilton logged 28:32 of ice time Tuesday, which was a career high. Partner Dennis Seidenberg played 24 minutes. With the game on the line, Bruins coach Claude Julien was forced to shorten his bench. Matt Bartkowski played less than two minutes in the third period and finished with a total 8:56 of ice time.
So many times since he’s been the No. 1 goalie in Boston, Rask has bailed out his teammates. They are not reciprocating so far this season, and if this trend continues, Rask could lose his typical, calm off-ice demeanor. He only wants one thing right now.
“Taking care [of the area] in front of your net is not something new,” he said. “Whoever comes here should be capable of doing it, and lately we haven’t been doing that.”
BOSTON -- The Minnesota Wild scored three unanswered goals in the third period en route to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Ironically, the Wild had surrendered a three-goal lead in the third period Monday and lost, 5-4, to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
On Tuesday, the Wild pummeled Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask with 42 shots, as Minnesota capitalized on defensive breakdowns by Boston.
The Bruins received a pair of goals from rookie Seth Griffith and a power-play goal by Milan Lucic. Griffith finished with three points.
The Wild gained a quick 1-0 lead when Nino Niederreiter scored at 4:51 of the first period. Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski turned the puck over behind Rask, and the Wild's Thomas Vanek quickly gained control and moved the puck to Niederreiter out front for the tally.
It wasn't a great period for the Bruins, but they were able to tie the game late in the first. David Krejci controlled the puck along the left wall and produced a nifty tape-to-tape saucer pass from the faceoff circle to Griffith, who redirected it past Niklas Backstrom to tie the game at 1-1 at 18:23.
Griffith scored his second goal of the game, giving Boston a 2-1 lead, at 5:23 of the second period. Lucic made a nice play at the blue line to get the puck to Gregory Campbell, who showed patience and waited for a sprawling defender to take himself out of the play. Campbell then fed a streaking Griffith, who slammed home the goal and then tumbled through the air before crashing into the end wall.
Boston gained a two-goal lead with a power-play strike at 16:59 of the second. The Bruins used clean, crisp passes before Lucic redirected a pass past Backstrom for a 3-1 advantage.
The Bruins' lead didn't last.
Minnesota scored a pair of goals early in the third period to tie the game at 3-3. The Wild capitalized on a defensive breakdown when Minnesota's Zach Parise scored at 4:21. The Wild knotted the game at 6:34 when the Bruins couldn't clear the puck as a scramble ensued in front of Rask before Minnesota's Justin Fontaine scored to even things up.
The Wild gained a 4-3 lead when Marco Scandella's shot from the left point found its way through traffic and beat Rask to the top right corner at 14:07 of the third.
STREAKING: With his assist on Griffith's first goal of the game, Krejci extended his point streak to seven games. He has three goals and six assists for nine points during this stretch.
SAVE OF THE GAME: With the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead early in the second period, the Wild was a 2-on-1 when Minnesota's Jason Zucker took a slap shot from the left faceoff circle. Rask flashed a left-pad save and kicked the rebound to the side wall at 7:36 of the period.
INJURED: Referee Dave Lewis was hit in the face by a puck during the first period. He exited the ice and did not return. The rest of the game was officiated by one referee and two linesmen.
BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins have gone viral.
On Monday, members of the Bruins visited Boston Children’s Hospital dressed up as characters from the Disney movie “Frozen.”
Kevan Miller, Matt Fraser, Matt Bartkowski, Seth Griffith, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton enjoyed their visit with the children.
“It’s part of our responsibility as pro athletes,” Krug said, who was dressed as Olaf the snowman. “We have the opportunity to brighten somebody’s day by just saying ‘Hello.’ It’s always fun dressing up in costumes, and just putting smiles on their faces is a lot of fun. We walk into the rooms and before we even say ‘hello’ they’re smiling.”
Hamilton, Boston’s 6-foot-5, 212-pound defenseman, dressed as Elsa. He admitted it was an extra-large costume and somehow he fit into it. He also said he was singing the hit song “Let it Go” all night, but said it was all worth it for the kids.
“Yeah, Dougie pulled it off really well,” Krug said with a smile. “It was surprising how seamless his transition was into the costume.”
Fraser, 24, has been watching from press level for the majority of season. He played the first three games, sat the next three, returned for one more, but has been scratched the last three. He’ll be out of the lineup again Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.
That’s exactly the attitude Bruins coach Claude Julien wants to hear from a player.
“Like anybody else, I’m sure he’s wants to play. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t,” Julien said. “That’s where he’s at right now, and he’s had some opportunities and he’s been just OK. He’s a young player, so he’s just got to bide his time and when he gets that opportunity to get back in he’s got to be ready. He’s no different than anybody else that’s been in that position before.”
Once veteran forward Simon Gagne proved he was healthy and could contribute, he’s been in the lineup, mostly on the Bruins’ fourth line, along with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell.
Forward Jordan Caron, who is currently playing for the P-Bruins, spent the entire 2013-2104 season with the Bruins serving as the extra forward and played only 35 games. It’s a difficult role to handle, especially for a young player.
“Yeah, it’s tough,” Fraser said. “It’s good to see the team winning, but selfishly speaking it is hard to sit out and be the 13th forward, especially if you know that you can give more. But at the end of the day, I’m a younger guy and you kind of got to pay your dues. With that being said, I’m still just as hungry. You want to get out there and you practice just as hard, if not harder. It’s definitely challenging, especially with a lot of downtime, but at the end of the day the coaches have a plan and you’ve got to make sure you’re ready when you’re called upon.”