Lucic, Krug help Bruins beat Sabres
Milan Lucic got five stitches — and the last word.
The Buffalo crowd cheered when Lucic was struck in the face with a puck late in the first period of Boston’s 5-2 victory over the reeling Sabres on Wednesday night. The rugged left wing left the ice for repairs, then responded by scoring 40 seconds into the second period.
"When you get hit in the face like that, it’s never a good feeling," said Lucic, who had two goals and an assist. "It’s nice to get one when the crowd’s cheering when you get hit in the face. It’s nice to stick it to them that way."
Torey Krug also scored twice, and Dougie Hamilton added his second goal of the season. The Bruins are 6-2 overall and have won their first four road games for the first time since 2010.
Nikita Zadorov and Cody Hodgson scored for Buffalo. At 1-9-1, the Sabres are off to their worst start in franchise history. They are winless in their first seven home games in a skid that continues to raise questions of how much more patience owner Terry Pegula has in the team’s rebuilding plan.
General manager Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston find themselves on the hot seat as the team prepares for a two-game swing through Florida.
By the time Krug netted the second of his two third-period goals, the fans launched into what have become regular "Fire Darcy! Fire Darcy!" chants in reference to Regier.
As for Rolston, he’s 16-20-6 since taking over in February after Lindy Ruff was fired. Coincidently, Ruff is now coaching the Dallas Stars, and will be making his return to Buffalo on Monday night.
It was another hit to the head that earned the ire of the Bruins as Boston left wing Loui Eriksson had to be helped from the ice after being blindsided by a late hit from Sabres enforcer John Scott in the third period.
Eriksson was skating through the neutral zone and had dumped the puck into the Sabres end. That’s when Scott skated in from Eriksson’s right and leveled him with a shoulder to the face. Eriksson was dazed and had to be helped off the ice and did not return.
Following the game, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Eriksson was staying behind in Buffalo for precautionary reasons and expected to return to Boston on Thursday.
Scott was ejected, and is expected to face a disciplinary hearing with the NHL.
Bruins coach Claude Julien was unhappy with the hit, and was spotted yelling in the direction of the Sabres’ bench.
"He’s out there for two reasons and that’s either to fight or hurt," Julien said about Scott. "So he did his job tonight."
The Bruins responded with Krug scoring on the ensuing power play.
"We were starting to come around," said Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who made 29 saves. "We got some life off those goals in the second period. For the most part we cleaned some stuff up. Our transition to defense cost us two but other than that we’re in a hockey game."
Chad Johnson made 14 saves for Boston to earn the win.
Boston opened the scoring when Jarome Iginla’s wrist shot deflected off Lucic and through Miller’s legs.
The Bruins doubled their lead 40 seconds into the second on Lucic’s team-leading fifth goal. Iginla fired a pass from the right boards to Lucic and he tapped the puck in before crashing into the boards behind Miller.
Buffalo’s first goal came from its struggling power play, which improved to 4 for 38 when Cody Hodgson scored 8:21 into the second period. The Sabres only managed two shots in the third period and were outshot 34-16 overall.
"They’ve got a strong team from their `D’ all the way up to their forwards and we didn’t match them," Sabres co-captain Steve Ott said.
Zadorov’s first NHL goal, in just his second NHL game, brought the Sabres within one with 4:50 to play in the second period. Zadorov moved on his backhand around Bruins center before beating Johnson to the left side.
"It feels good for my first NHL goal, first pro goal of my life," Zadorov said. "I’m really happy now."
Zadorov is the second-youngest player to score a goal for the Sabres, at 18 years, 190 days. Pierre Turgeon was 18 years, 54 days when he scored for Buffalo in 1987.
NOTES: First-round pick Rasmus Ristolainen was among Buffalo’s scratches, as was Patrick Kaleta who served the sixth game of his 10-game suspension. … Boston returns home for two games in three nights, beginning with San Jose on Thursday. … Hodgson has been the Sabres most productive player with a point in seven of his past nine games (three goals, five assists).