Boston, Mass. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres traveled to Boston on New Year's Eve to take on the league-leading Bruins in a matinee matchup at TD Garden.
The first period was almost completely controlled by Boston. The Bruins struck first with a goal from David Pastrnak, but then Sabres forward Tage Thompson struck three minutes later to tie the game at 1-1.
The two teams remained tied going into the second period, where the Sabres looked stronger and more like themselves. Alex Tuch scored the only goal of the frame just two minutes in to give his team the lead going into the second intermission.
Boston came out firing in the third period, and eventually took the lead with goals from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The game looked finished when Boston was awarded nearly a full two-minute two-man advantage with just over six minutes to go, however the Sabres managed to kill off the penalties.
Dylan Cozens was able to tie the game at 3-3 with just about a minute-and-a-half to go in regulation to force overtime.
Both teams had ample opportunities to score during the overtime period, but Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman kept the game going.
However, Tuch ended the game with his second goal of the afternoon to help give Buffalo a 4-3 win in Game 1 of their three-game road trip.
With the win, the Sabres become just the third team to defeat the Bruins at home this season. This win also extended their win streak to six games.
Here are the three observations for this game:
1.) Sloppy start
While the Sabres outshot the Bruins in the first period, they could barely complete passes anywhere but the offensive zone. The team looked unorganized and sloppy with many questionable passes throughout the period.
The Sabres have established an identity for themselves over the past month, and seemed to forget that identity for, at least, the first period. Entering an opposing building against the league's best team, who also haven't lost in regulation at home, can do that though.
The goal from Thompson, however, seemed to ground the team and helped them get their feet underneath them for the second period.
With a player like Marchand being one of the cornerstones of a team for more than a decade, everyone knows Boston is one of the most annoying teams to play against. Their physicality has been one of the best for many years in the NHL.
One thing that's different about this Sabres team compared to years passed is that they're young, hungry, and are willing to do anything to win.
Players like Rasmus Dahlin and Peyton Krebs displayed that in this game.
Whether it was Dahlin standing up for Luukkonen, or Krebs laying a hit on Taylor Hall and then answering the bell to fight Connor Clifton moments later, this group showed they are willing to do anything for their teammates.
3.) Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
It's safe to say Luukkonen has earned his spot in the NHL.
The 23-year-old was one of the biggest question marks surrounding the Sabres heading into the season, but he has erased all doubt if he belongs in the NHL.
The Sabres netminder stopped 37-of-40 shots in this game with some spectacular saves in the times his team needed him the most.
In his last five games, Luukkonen has a record of 4-1 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average.
If Luukkonen continues this run of great play, the Sabres could be looking at a very impressive group of goalies coming up through the ranks for years to come.
The Sabres are right back at it on Sunday, where they will take on the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST with pregame coverage beginning at 6 p.m. EST with Brian Koziol on the radio home of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.