BOSTON — Buffalo star Jack Eichel went down with an injury and his teammates responded with one of their best performances of the season.
Scott Wilson had a goal and an assist during Buffalo’s big second period, helping the Sabres cool off Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins with a 4-2 victory on Saturday night.
"I thought the guys made a terrific effort tonight," Buffalo coach Phil Housley said. "One of the best games I’ve seen us check."
Eichel left midway through the opening period, favouring his right knee after falling awkwardly on a check by Boston defenceman Matt Grzelcyk along the boards behind the Bruins’ net.
"He got tangled up in the corner," Housley said. "We’ll know tomorrow when he sees our doctors."
Evander Kane and Benoit Pouliot also scored during the second and Rasmus Ristolainen added an empty-netter with 29 seconds remaining. Former Bruins goalie Chad Johnson made 25 saves as the Sabres picked up the road win with their fathers along for the trip.
"To see Jack go down like that, that’s a big hole to fill," Pouliot said. "(The win) feels good for the dads and for everyone."
The Sabres had lost four of five and entered with the NHL’s second-fewest points.
Rask stopped 24 shots, but lost in regulation for the first time since Nov. 26. It snapped his career-best 21-game streak with at least a point (19-0-2), the fourth-longest in team history.
The Bruins were bothered by their subpar effort.
"I think it was pretty obvious that wasn’t our best game — the way we want to play — but those games happen," Rask said.
Boston centre Patrice Bergeron agreed they had a poor effort from the start.
"We were flat," Bergeron said. "When you do that, you don’t deserve it — plain and simple."
Ryan Spooner and David Backes accounted for Boston’s goals. The Bruins failed to get a point for just the second time in 24 games (18-2-4).
Backes scored with 59 seconds left after Rask was replaced by an extra skater. But Ristolainen fired one nearly the length of the ice for his fifth of the season.
Kane made it 1-0 when he broke in on a clean breakaway after Bruins forward David Pastrnak flubbed a pass near the right point and Sam Reinhart passed the puck to the winger. Kane fired a hard wrist shot that beat Rask on the glove side inside the right post 7:44 into the second.
Wilson made it 2-0 just over five minutes later when he collected a loose puck that was blocked by Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid and slipped a wrist shot into the net.
Spooner’s goal sliced the lead in half before Pouliot one-timed Wilson’s pass by Rask at the end of a 3-on-1 break with 71 seconds left in the second.
Rask made a pair of nice pad stops in a relatively quiet opening period. Boston’s first shot on goal by a forward came in the final minute.
NOTES: Kane’s goal snapped his 10-game scoreless stretch. … Sabres C Jacob Josefson played his 300th NHL game. … Bruins D Kevan Miller missed his fourth straight game because of an upper-body injury. … The teams play again Feb. 25 in their final regular-season matchup.
Sabres: Host Colorado on Sunday. They beat the Avalanche in the only other meeting this season.
Bruins: At New Jersey on Sunday. Boston won the first meeting, at home on Jan. 23.