OPINION: Three observations: Sabres power play shut down; Bruins pull away in third

Arttu Ruotsalainen finds the net again for Buffalo; Tokarski falls back to earth after good stretch
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The Buffalo Sabres hung around a little bit on Thursday night at KeyBank Center against the Boston Bruins.

Buffalo managed to tie the score at 1-1 early in the second period, but the Bruins grabbed their lead back near the midway point of the game. Boston never looked back from there, scoring another two quick goals early in the third period before coasting to an easy 5-1 victory against Dustin Tokarski and the Sabres.

Buffalo struggled mightily on the power play, and couldn't keep up with Boston at 5-on-5 either.

Let's take a closer look with three observations from Thursday night's game:

1.) Ruotsalainen continues his successful first NHL call up

Even in a loss, it's been easier to point out some of the more positive developments with this year's Sabres team.

Since being called up from the Rochester Americans earlier this month, Sabres rookie forward Arttu Ruotsalainen has shown that he may not need to be sent back to the American Hockey League at any point.

The 23-year-old forward has tallied three goals in eight games with the Sabres. He's shown that he has a nose for the net, while also fitting in extremely well on a line with fellow Sabres rookie Dylan Cozens, along with the recently traded-for Anders Bjork.

2.) Sabres power play can't save them, even with five opportunities

It can't be a great sign for your team to get five power play opportunities and not score on any of them. That's what happened for the Sabres on Thursday night.

Neither team scored on the power play, but in a game where the Sabres were desperate for any form of offense against a strong 5-on-5 team like the Bruins, they needed the power play to come through.

In five opportunities, the Sabres mustered just five shots on the power play, while giving up four shots from the Bruins. Not only did the Sabres struggle to generate offense, but they were on their heels defending a Bruins team down a man.

The power play has been struggling since Jack Eichel's exit from the lineup. Once first in the league in power play conversion percentage, the Sabres have been in a free-fall for over a month, now just 15th in the league with a conversion rate of 20.3%.

3.) Tokarski's magic runs out

Tokarski has enjoyed a nice stretch of hockey over the last couple of weeks, performing admirably in a backup role behind Linus Ullmark, then stepping into a starting role after Ullmark suffered a lower-body injury.

The Sabres netminder had turned in a couple of great performances against the Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend, as well as another one on Tuesday night in another loss to the Bruins. Tokarski relieved Ullmark last week in a shootout loss to the Bruins, and also was a big reason the Sabres were able to win against the Capitals last week.

However, Tokarski allowed quite a few goals he'd like back on Thursday.

While the first Bruins goal from Brad Marchand was practically hopeless to stop, the Bruins' second goal scored by Matt Grzelcyk was a clean shot directly in front of him that he just missed. That ended up being the game-winning goal.

In the third period, the Bruins extended their lead on shots you'd like your goaltender to stop. Tokarski has done a good job of keeping those goals out of his game for the last week or so, but on Thursday, the floodgates opened.

With Ullmark expected to be out on a week-to-week basis, Tokarski will continue to see time in the crease.

With another game against the Bruins looming on Friday, it looks like the Sabres may be inching closer to giving former 2017 second round pick Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen his first career NHL start.

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The Sabres will need to be ready to take on this same Bruins team for the third time in a row on Friday at KeyBank Center.

We'll start things off with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show at 6 p.m. ET with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog. Opening faceoff is set to take place just after 7 p.m. ET on the radio flagship station of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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