In case there was still any doubt after Saturday, the Bruins made sure everyone knew they are all the way back on Sunday, demolishing the Buffalo Sabres, 7-0.
An off game from the Bruins actually would have been understandable on Sunday. They had already pulled themselves out of their mini-skid with a win over a desperate Winnipeg team on Thursday and a red-hot Minnesota team on Saturday.
Bruins are back on track after dominant wins over Wild, Sabres
They were playing the second day of a back-to-back, with travel, against a rested opponent. It was the end of a five-game road trip, which sometimes can have guys just looking forward to getting home. David Krejci was sitting to manage what coach Jim Montgomery called “soreness.” Dmitry Orlov got a rest day on defense.
Instead, it was the Sabres, a team that should be desperate as they try to stay in the playoff race, that looked disinterested while the Bruins looked fully engaged and determined to make a point. They did, by punishing Buffalo over and over and over again.
The list of impressive performances starts with the first line, and the first shift of the game. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk went to work deep in the Buffalo zone right off the bat -- with some help from a good pinch by Brandon Carlo -- and Bergeron buried a shot from the slot just 15 seconds into the game.
That line continued to distance themselves from a mini-skid of their own with a second straight dominant game. DeBrusk scored a goal of his own later in the first period. DeBrusk and Bergeron set up a Hampus Lindholm goal, with Bergeron starting the breakout and DeBrusk taking care of the transition and zone entry. Bergeron and Marchand assisted on David Pastrnak’s power-play goal that made it 5-0 and tied Pastrnak’s career high in goals at 48.
The Bruins had seven different goal-scorers and six different players register multiple points, with DeBrusk’s four (one goal, three assists) leading the way. Among them was Connor Clifton, whose two assists gave him his first multi-point game since Dec. 19.
Clifton was paired with Jakub Zboril, who was playing his first game since Feb. 23 and just his third game since Thanksgiving. Zboril made his case to get into a few more games down the stretch, assisting on the Bruins’ second goal of the game with a stretch pass up to Garnet Hathaway and helping to set up the third as well with a breakout pass to Clifton.
Jakub Lauko, another infrequently used player, continued to make his own case in his third straight game in the lineup. Lauko brought his usual energy and physicality, and he drew the penalty that led to Pastrnak’s power-play goal. In his 15 games this season, Lauko has drawn penalties at a rate unmatched by anyone else in the entire NHL.
Charlie Coyle continued his recent stretch of dominance, recording a goal and an assist. He now has nine points in his last nine games.
Last but certainly not least, we have to highlight Jeremy Swayman, who stopped all 27 shots he faced to earn his second straight shutout. He became the first Bruins goalie to record shutouts in back-to-back starts within one season since Tuukka Rask in April 2013 (Jaroslav Halak had a shutout in his final start of the 2018-19 season and first start of the 2019-20 season). His two best saves came when the Sabres maybe still had a sliver of hope at 3-0, robbing Casey Mittelstadt on a point-blank chance late in the first and flashing the glove to snag a Jeff Skinner shot early in the second.
The Bruins’ four-game slide from last Thursday through this past Tuesday was never anything to panic over, but it had dragged on longer than they deemed acceptable, and a few bad habits had creeped into their game.
A team meeting Thursday morning seemed to be the moment the Bruins decided they were done with all that and ready to turn it back on. They have done just that, closing out their road trip with three straight impressive wins, punctuated by Sunday’s total beatdown of the Sabres.