With all due respect to the Sabres, the Bruins were lucky they were playing the Sabres.
It took a come-from-behind effort after a sloppy showing for the Bruins to eek past the Atlantic Division’s worst team in overtime. Loui Eriksson, who was moved up to the first line and then back to the third, scored his second overtime winner in less than a week to save the Bruins the embarrassment in a 4-3 overtime win (box).
Dougie Hamilton scored a pair of goals, taking a feed from Carl Soderberg on a backdoor goal during a first-period power play and beating Jhonas Enroth with 91 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game with an extra attacker on.
Here are four more things we learned Sunday night:
BARTKOWSKI TOSSED FOR BAD HIT
Matt Bartkowski still doesn’t have a goal in 100 career regular-season NHL games. His first suspension may come before his first goal.
Bartkowski caught Brian Gionta with a hit to the head at the Sabres blue line in the first period that sent the Sabres captain flying as he flipped 180 degrees on his side before landing on his head/shoulder area. A bloodied Gionta remained on the ice before leaving the game.
Marcus Foligno immediately went after Bartkowski for the hit, leading to Bartkowski’s first career fight. After the lengthy bout, Bartkowski was assessed a major for fighting, an interference major for the hit and a game misconduct.
Bartkowski is Boston’s best skater on the back end. The circumstances of the play were best put by Mick Colageo of the The Standard-Times.
JULIEN TRIES ERIKSSON WITH LUCIC AND KREJCI… BRIEFLY
Claude Julien finally put Loui Eriksson on David Krejci‘s right wing to begin Sunday’s game, marking the first time Eriksson got a look of three shifts or more on Boston’s top line this season.
Then, after some struggles in the second period (allowing a goal followed by a later shift in which a Krejci turnover led to a Buffalo scoring chance and a Lucic flub at the blue line led to Dougie Hamilton taking a penalty), Julien put Eriksson back with Carl Soderberg back with Chris Kelly.
Maybe it’s because they were playing the Sabres and maybe it’s because they really like playing with each other, but their reunion after being apart for an hour was like the end of ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ Kelly scored on the first shift they played together, marking his first goal in 23 games.
With Eriksson back with Kelly and Soderberg, Craig Cunningham moved up to Krejci’s line. Cunningham began the game with Kelly and Soderberg.
One name that’s been attached to the Bruins all season has been Chris Stewart, Buffalo’s struggling right wing who could be a decent forward in the right situation.
Stewart played on a line with Mikhail Grigorenko and Cody Hodgson. He made some nice plays, forcing a Dennis Seidenberg turnover and feeding a nice pass up to Andrej Meszaros (!) off the rush for a Sabres goal in the second period.
Still, the assist made for just the seventh point this season for the former first-round pick, as he now has three goals and four assists this season.
Stewart is in the last season of his contract and will be a restricted free agent. The 27-year-old’s contract carries a $4.15 million cap hit.
RASK GIVES UP A SOFTIE
Tuukka Rask has had to keep the Bruins in games during their struggles (though at this point we should just call it ‘this season’), so the last person at whom the finger should be pointed is the goaltender.
That said, Rask was uncharacteristically weak in sealing off the post as he allowed an inexplicable goal to Tim Schaller on a wraparound in the third period to give Buffalo a 3-2 lead.
Equally responsible on the play was Dennis Seidenberg, who watched as Schaller took two whacks at the puck to put it in the net.
The goal was the first of Schaller’s NHL career. Add in that Meszaros’ goal was his first of the season, and the Bruins allowed a pair of goals to players who, entering Sunday night, had not scored this season.