BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Goalie Jeremy Swayman and the league-leading Boston Bruins had unfinished business to address before entertaining thoughts of finally going home following a week on the road.
In a five-game trip that began with losses in Detroit and Chicago to mark Boston’s first two-game skid of the season, the Bruins closed with three straight wins, capped by a 7-0 rout of the reeling Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Captain Patrice Bergeron set the tone by scoring 15 seconds into the game. The Bruins scored three times on their first seven shots. David Pastrnak matched a career-high by scoring his team-leading 48th goal. And Swayman made 26 saves to post his second straight shutout, which he celebrated by taking a bite out of a chicken wing offered to him by fellow goalie Linus Ullmark.
“Love that guy,” Swayman said of Ullmark, before addressing how important it was for the Bruins to regain their groove.
“I think the biggest thing is just staying in the moment, learning from our mistakes and taking the positives from games that we don’t like,” Swayman said. “So the last couple of games have been a really big positive for our team.”
Swayman, who was coming off a 36-save outing in a 3-0 win at Winnipeg on Thursday, blanked the NHL’s third-best offense. He now has four shutouts on the season, all coming in the span of 13 starts dating to a 6-0 win over Philadelphia on Jan. 16.
Jake DeBrusk had a goal and three assists while Garnet Hathaway and Hampus Lindholm also scored.
Boston continued its domination over its Atlantic Division rival by improving to 19-1-1 in its past 21 meetings, and 9-0-1 in the past 10 since a 6-4 loss at Buffalo on April 23, 2021. The Bruins have now outscored the Sabres by a combined 14-1 in their past two outings following a 7-1 win at Boston on March 2.
The Sabres dropped to 2-7-2 in their past 11 as part of a swoon that began immediately after they won five of six to move into eighth-place in the Eastern Conference standings. Buffalo squandered yet another opportunity to gain ground after opening the day sitting 11th, and six points behind the eighth-place Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 19 shots in dropping to 0-3-2 in his past five, a stretch in which he’s allowed 21 goals.
The difference in how the playoff-tested Bruins played compared to the Sabres - in the midst of an NHL-worst 11-season playoff drought - was apparent to Buffalo coach Don Granato.
“They make their breaks and they’re ready for their breaks and they get them early in the game,” Granato said. “So you fall behind, you start chasing the game against a team that’s feeling their swagger like they are, and it’s a little more challenging.”
Boston bookended a three-goal first period with a three-goal third in which Charlie Coyle and defenseman Charlie McAvoy closed the scoring.
The Bruins won their 26th road game to match a franchise record set in 1971-72. Boston’s 53 wins through 69 games match the team’s fourth-highest total, and are four short of the franchise record set during a 78-game season in 1970-71.
“This was a big game. And to head back home after a long trip and to play like that and get the result is huge for us,” McAvoy said. “When we play the right way, our skill can take over once our work ethic and compete go first.”
Bruins C David Krejci was scratched due to what coach Jim Montgomery referred to as “soreness,” while D Dmitry Orlov was given the day off with Boston playing on consecutive days.
Bruins: Host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
Sabres: Host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.
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