Along with Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres’ penalty killers spent more than two periods carrying the team. They provided a boost during an otherwise sluggish outing and were the main reason the Sabres and Boston Bruins entered the final period in a 1-1 tie.
The short-handed unit finally faltered in the third, and Buffalo’s winning streak was over.
Boston’s overmatched power-play group broke through with 12:08 left, lifting the visitors to a 3-1 victory in First Niagara Center. The Sabres, who had won two straight, fell to 3-7-1 in the last 11 games.
The Sabres play Tuesday in Ottawa, their second road game against the Senators in a week.
Miller had little chance when the Bruins made it 2-1 with 12:08 left. Chris Bourque’s shot from the point bounced off the back boards and caromed into the faceoff circle to a driving Patrice Bergeron.
He ripped a shot into the top corner for Boston’s fourth power-play goal of the season. Boston’s Milan Lucic scored into an empty net with 48.6 seconds left.
The busiest players in the first period were the goaltenders. Miller faced 16 shots while Anton Khudobin saw 13, but neither allowed one to find the net.
Boston controlled the opening three minutes, leading the fans to give a mock cheer when Cody McCormick’s long-range dump-in with 2:51 gone gave Buffalo its first shot. The reaction was a carryover from Saturday, when the New York Islanders outshot the visiting Sabres, 43-15.
The Sabres’ fourth line of McCormick in the middle of Patrick Kaleta and John Scott actually got Buffalo going. They got the puck deep into the Bruins’ zone on their first two shifts, and the third featured a candidate for fight of the year.
Kaleta skated hard across the ice to drill defenseman Dennis Seidenberg into the boards, which Boston’s Gregory Campbell didn’t like.
He instigated the fight, which ended with the crowd of 18,869 on its feet.
Kaleta threw 16 lefts, nearly all of them haymakers and uppercuts, and celebrated a unanimous decision.
The Bruins tested Miller often late, especially the trio of Brad Marchand, Bergeron and Nathan Horton. The goalie also had to stand up to a hard-driving Chris Kelly in the waning seconds, as the Boston center crashed hard into the post after getting slashed by Cody Hodgson with 2.5 ticks left.
The Sabres opened the second period short-handed, and they spent much of it that way.
They killed the Hodgson penalty, but shortly after it ended, Steve Ott (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Alexander Sulzer (cross-check) went to the box. The Sabres’ penalty killers, who opened the game ranked 18th in the league, outworked Boston’s 30th-ranked power play.
Christian Ehrhoff slid to knock the puck away from Marchand on a breakaway. Buffalo caught a break when Milan Lucic missed an open net, but it allowed just four shots during the extended short-handed situation.
The Bruins, though, continued to tilt the ice and finally solved Miller. Andrew Ference collected a turnover by Tyler Ennis and quickly fed Marchand in the slot. He put his shot through traffic just inside the far post with 7:10 gone, giving Boston a 1-0 lead and its 23rd shot through 27 minutes.
Ennis made up for the mistake with his fifth goal of the season to tie the game.
Drew Stafford intercepted Dougie Hamilton’s clearing attempt along the boards and spotted Ennis alone in the slot. The center deked right to get Khudobin down, then went around the left side to put the puck home with 1:59 to go.
Ennis has found the net in three of the last four games.
The Bruins opened the third period the same way they spent the opening two, by testing Miller.
Thomas Vanek’s giveaway went directly to Marchand in the slot.
He tried beating Miller with a high shot, but the goalie’s glove won the duel with 1:22 off the clock.