“We gave up an early one in the third and we didn’t get down on it,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He gave us the boost back.”
Cassidy said Rask, who missed 11 games in March and early April with an upper-body injury, was solid in net for the Bruins. Cassidy said Rask was actually a little busier against the Sabres than he had been Tuesday in a 3-1 win at Pittsburgh, when Rask faced just 26 shots. Boston won both and Cassidy said it's good to see the Bruins' top goalie playing well with the playoffs only a few weeks away.
“He’s starting to string some together, that’s for sure,” Cassidy said.
The Bruins entered Thursday holding the fourth and final playoff spot for the East Division, took the first of back-to-back games against the last-place Sabres, who fell to 13-31-7.
Reinhart tied it 1:43 into the third with his 23rd goal of the season, but after rallying from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1, the Sabres couldn’t catch the Bruins again.
“When they get the lead, they play with it well. They frustrate other teams and that’s something that we can kind of learn from,” Buffalo's Drake Caggiula said.
Coyle put Boston back up 3-2 on a breakaway 7:58 into the third period. Coyle intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, then slipped between Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolaine for a clean breakaway on Luukkonen.
“We were battling. Boston is a tough team. That’s how they play. They play physical," Buffalo defenseman Jacob Bryson said. “I thought we stood our ground. I thought we played well and we had our chances. ... It was a good game. They just capitalized on a few more chances than we did.”
JUST IN TIME
Krejci’s power-play goal in the final second of the first period barely beat the buzzer. The puck hit the post, bounced off Luukkonen’s hip and redirected into the net. Replays showed the puck made it across the goal line with four-tenths of a second remaining. Reinhart had five seconds left in his penalty for tripping Pastrnak.
Coyle’s goal was his sixth of the season and ended a 28-game scoring drought, the longest of his career. It was the sixth goal for Coyle and his first since he scored against the New York Rangers on Feb. 28.
“I always want to contribute. You want to contribute every game. But it’s a team game and it usually is kind of scattered throughout,” Coyle said. "It’s nice to see that go in and help my team win. I’m happy about it for sure. I’m not going to downplay that.
Marchand’s goal was into an empty net after the Sabres pulled Luukkonen for an extra skater. Marchand made a steal deep in his own end, then let go of a wrist shot that got in under the crossbar from the other end of the ice with 1:34 left in the third.
The Bruins host the Sabres again on Saturday in the eighth and final meeting between the clubs this season.