BUFFALO — The goals came early (three in the first period), late (three in the third), and by the bushel basket full Sunday afternoon at KeyBank Center, where seven different Bruins scorers clobbered the Sabres, 7-0, and further scuttled the Western New Yorker’s fading hope of reaching the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Eggs were selling for $1.15 a dozen and Barack Obama was a first-term POTUS when the distant sons of the French Connection last played a game beyond the NHL’s regular season. And here, faced with the league-leading Black and Gold, they cracked early, falling into a 3-0 deficit by midway through the first on the initial flurry of goals by Patrice Bergeron, Garnet Hathaway, and Jake DeBrusk (1-2–3 for the afternoon).
Backed by Jeremy Swayman’s first back-to-back shutouts, the Bruins went home with their third straight win, a strong turnaround to the season’s final long road trip that began with consecutive losses to Detroit and Chicago.
“Something we pride ourselves on,” said Charlie Coyle, yet another of the afternoon’s Snow White and the Seven Scorers effort. “When things don’t go our way, we lose a game, we want to get right back and do it right, get a win. We started the trip off with two losses. That’s not ideal. It’s not like us. We haven’t had much of that at all.”
In fact, until Detroit and Chicago, the Bruins had not sustained back-to-back regulation defeats all season. The turnaround started with a 3-0 win (backed by Swayman) Thursday in Winnipeg, followed by Saturday’s solid 5-2 surgical dismembering of the Wild. They piled up the three wins with an aggregate goal total of 15-2.
“The common thread would be a little more concerted effort,” said coach Jim Montgomery, whose club gets back to work Tuesday night at the Garden vs. the Senators, “being five people connected … in all three zones.”
An immediate good sign here, added Montgomery, was an early breakout that showed the kind of cohesiveness that has helped the Bruins build what is a league-best mark of 53-11-5.
“The defenseman hit Bergy in the middle of the ice,” he recounted. “We went to the wall, to the weak-side defenseman, and then to the weak-side winger. When we’re playing connected like that, we all know where we are in our spots … it’s fun to watch ‘em go.”
Now with 13 games left prior to the playoffs, the Bruins need four more wins to equal the franchise-best mark of 57 W’s piled up by the marauding 1970-71 club led by Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito et al. They play eight of those 13 on home ice, where they hold another league-best mark of 27-3-3.
Less than 24 hours after the win in St. Paul, Montgomery altered his lineup slightly, giving veteran center David Krejci the day off because of what the coach called “wear and tear.” Newcomer Dmitry Orlov, who has been a force on defense since being acquired from the Capitals, took his first respite from the backline rotation, which allowed Jakub Zboril back into the blueline order.
Zboril rode with Connor Clifton on the No. 3 pairing and the duo piled up three assists in the first period. Later, fellow backliners Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy scored goals.
Bruins defensemen have 37 goals, six more than they squeezed out all last season. Lindholm leads the pack with 10, including the one he potted here for the 4-0 lead in the second. The Bruins are 25-3-0 when at least one of their blueliners has scored.
The Sabres, booed during some of their four failed power-play efforts, watched Bergeron score (No. 26) only 15 seconds into the afternoon. Hathaway and DeBrusk then scored less than three minutes apart to make it 3-0. Three goals on six shots against goalie of the future Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, whose future may be over when Northeastern standout Devon Levi, signed last week, takes over the cage.
After Lindholm potted the 4-0 lead, with his third goal dating to last Saturday, the Bruins completed the beatdown with third-period strikes by David Pastrnak (48), Coyle, and McAvoy. Pastrnak’s next strike will set his career high for scoring.
The last time the Bruins had seven different scorers light the lamp? An 8-1 win over the Devils on March 31, 2022. Brad Marchand had a pair. Bruce Cassidy was the coach. Oh, and eggs were selling for this or that side of $2.00 a dozen.
“It’s a luxury behind the bench … you can leave people on the ice,” said Montgomery, pondering what it means to have such scoring depth. “They were trying to match up [Tage] Thompson’s line against Coyle’s line or [Tomas] Nosek’s line, and we just leave ‘em out there and match up against one of the better offensive lines in the league because of our depth.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.