Sabres beat Bruins 4-1 in Rick Nash's debut for Boston
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Hockey Writer
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Kyle Okposo and the Eastern Conference’s last-place Buffalo Sabres head into the uncertainty of the NHL’s trade deadline sure of one thing.
They were better than the retooled Bruins by beating them 4-1 to spoil forward Rick Nash’s Boston debut.
What happens before the trade deadline hits Monday is anyone’s guess with the Sabres anticipated to make several deals, including one involving forward Evander Kane.
“I’ve been through it before,” Okposo said. “It’s obviously hard to see teammates go. That comes with not having the season that we want. So we just kind of have to sit back and wait and see, and be professional.”
Okposo and Benoit Pouliot scored on consecutive shots in the first period in a game the Sabres never trailed. Evan Rodrigues and Marco Scandella also scored, and Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots for the Sabres, who snapped an 0-5-2 home skid against the Bruins. Buffalo had not defeated Boston at home since a 5-4 overtime win Feb. 26, 2014.
The Bruins, coming off a 4-3 loss at Toronto a night earlier, started flat while closing a five-game road swing on a day that began with them acquiring Nash in a multiplayer trade with the New York Rangers. Boston gave up three players, including forward Ryan Spooner and prospect defenseman Ryan Lindgren, and two draft picks, including its first-round selection this year.
Patrice Bergeron refused to use the road trip or the trade as reasons for the Bruins losing consecutive games for the first time since going 0-1-1 on Dec. 14-16.
“There was only one new guy today,” Bergeron said. “We should know the system. We should know where to be and it wasn’t there.”
Anton Khudobin was not sharp in goal. He allowed four goals on 24 shots, including being beaten through the legs on Scandella’s goal from the right boards that put Buffalo up 4-1 in the opening minutes of the third period.
The turning point came in the opening minutes of the second period after Boston’s Charlie McAvoy scored on a delayed penalty to cut Buffalo’s lead to 2-1.
Some four minutes later, Buffalo’s Sam Reinhart outworked Riley Nash and Danton Heinen in forcing a turnover deep in the Bruins zone. Reinhart then fed Rodrigues, who scored on a one-timer from the right circle.
“When you’re 2-1 and you’re making your push, it’s a bad time to make that mistake, especially at the tail end of a road trip,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think we looked slow today.”
Cassidy at least liked what he saw from Nash.
“He did as advertised to me,” Cassidy said. “He’ll be a welcome addition for us. I know he didn’t see the best Boston Bruins team.”
The 33-year-old Nash was credited with 17:27 of ice time while playing on the Bruins’ second line, centered by David Krejci, and earning a spot on the top power-play unit. He finished with five shots, which didn’t include a hard snapshot from the right circle which he banked off the far post on a 3-on-2 rush midway through the second period.
Nash said he felt fresh in playing his first game since the Rangers played Philadelphia on Feb. 18. He was a healthy scratch during New York’s previous two games because the Rangers didn’t want to risk the possibility of Nash being hurt before he was dealt.
“I had my legs. It was my first game in a week so I was a bit nervous,” Nash said. “It’s definitely been a couple of strange days not being able to play. But that’s behind us and I’m happy to be a Bruin.”
The Bruins squandered an opportunity to jump into second place in the Atlantic Division standings, a point ahead of the idle Maple Leafs.
NOTES: Kane sat for the second consecutive game to avoid the possibility of being hurt before he’s expected to be traded by Monday. … Bergeron played despite arriving at the arena wearing a protective boot on his right foot after he was hurt blocking a shot at Toronto on Saturday. … The Bruins also signed Brian Gionta to a one-year $700,000 contract after was the United States Olympic team captain at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. Gionta, who lives in Buffalo, watched the game with his family from a private suite and was expected to join the Bruins for practice Tuesday.
Bruins: Host Carolina on Tuesday night to open six-game homestand.
Sabres: Opens two-game trip at Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.
More NHL hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey