Halak stops 32 shots; Bruins rebound to beat Sabres 4-0
“When you have a game like last night, it can definitely make you a little nervous about how things are going to go,” Marchand said. “But I think this just gave us the confidence that we know we can settle down and bounce back.”
Captain Zdeno Chara and rookie Ryan Donato staked the Bruins to a 2-0 lead by the 15:34 mark of the first period. David Pastrnak scored in the second and Patrice Bergeron capped the victory with an empty-net goal with 12 seconds left.
The new-look Sabres, featuring rookie No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Dahlin and Jack Eichel as captain, more resembled the team that finished last in the standings for the third time in five years. After receiving rousing cheers upon being introduced before the opening faceoff in their season opener, the Sabres were booed off the ice following the first and second periods.
“Obviously, I think their fuse is a bit short for us, and rightfully so,” Eichel said, referring to fans’ impatience. “We haven’t played well the last few years. That’s on us to put a better product on the ice.”
It’s been a familiar lament for the Sabres. Dating to last season, Buffalo has lost five straight overall and six in a row at home — including three shutout losses. The Sabres dropped to 0-5-1 in their past six season openers. They were shut out for the fourth time to open a season, and first since a 2-0 loss at Philadelphia in 2003.
Buffalo failed to score despite playing much of the final five minutes with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.
Halak got the start a night after allowing two goals on 18 shots in replacing starter Tuukka Rask, who was yanked midway through the second period against Washington. The shutout was the 43rd of Halak’s career.
“We all knew it just wasn’t good enough yesterday and we needed to come back tonight and bounce back, and that’s what we did,” said Halak, who signed with Boston in July.
Chara opened the scoring 6:33 in, when he was allowed to skate in alone up the left side and beat offseason free-agent addition Carter Hutton on the short side.
Hutton finished with 22 saves and had no chance on Donato’s power-play goal nine minutes later. Donato was alone driving to the right post, where he redirected Marchand’s pass from the high slot.
The 18-year-old Dahlin had an inconsistent night and at times looked hesitant in being matched with several defensive partners. He was on the ice for the Bruins’ third goal in allowing David Krejci’s pass through the crease go directly through his legs. The pass set up Pastrnak, who scored while being left alone at the left post.
Dahlin finished second among Buffalo players with 22 minutes and 37 seconds of ice time, and was credited with two hits and one giveaway.
“Yeah, it was a little bit faster,” Dahlin said of the game’s pace. “I learned how a regular-season game is. I’m just looking forward to the next game. We’ve got to do better.”
NOTES: Boston improved to 5-2 in games after opening the season with a shutout loss. … The Sabres have only 10 players on the roster who played in Buffalo’s season opener last year, and just six from the 2016-17 opener. … At 18 years and 175 days, Dahlin is the second-youngest player to open a season in Buffalo, behind only 1987 No. 1 pick, Pierre Turgeon (18 years, 41 days). … Bruins RW Chris Wagner, who played 13:10 against Washington, was scratched and replaced in the lineup by LW Anders Bjork.
Bruins: Home-opener against Ottawa on Monday.
Sabres: Continue four-game homestand against New York Rangers on Saturday.