BOSTON — With thoughts of top draft projections Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel dancing in the minds of their front office and fans, the Buffalo Sabres still have a schedule to finish off.
And judging by the way they played Monday and Tuesday nights, the guys on the ice aren’t quite ready to pack it in for the future.
The lowly Sabres, the team with the worst record in the NHL, lost to the Washington Capitals in a shootout on Monday. On Tuesday, Buffalo, 1-31-1 when trailing after two periods, tied the game in regulation and rode the goaltending of Anders Lindback to a stunning 2-1 upset of the Boston Bruins.
Three of a possible four points against the Eastern Conference’s current wild-card leaders.
“I think we as a team deserve it,” Lindback said after stopping 44 shots and then going a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout for his first win as a starter all season. “We have been working so hard, and where we are, it’s a tough situation to be in for everyone that is here.
“I got to say that I have been impressed with everybody to just keep battling and keep buying in on a day like this, so it feels good.”
Lindback, previously 0-10-2 this season as a starter for the Dallas Stars and Sabres, was brilliant, making seven saves in overtime. He helped Buffalo end a seven-game losing streak.
“It’s only a couple games here, and we still want to keep winning and keep doing the right things,” Lindback said. “I do think that we are going to keep working hard here.”
The Sabres (20-43-7) also averted a four-game season series sweep at the hands of the Bruins, as they remain the only team never to be swept by Boston in a season series. The Sabres went 1-1-2 in the teams’ meetings.
The Bruins (36-23-11) saw their wild-card lead over the Ottawa Senators shrink to four points. The Senators have a game in hand, and the teams meet in Ottawa on Thursday night.
“We know what’s at stake, so it’s up to us to bounce back here, and that next game’s going to be as important as it’s ever been so far this year,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “And we know that, so we’ve got to pick up our socks here and not feel sorry for ourselves because we feel we got shortchanged here tonight and understand what’s at stake.”
It was just last week that the Bruins went into Ottawa and goalie Tuukka Rask pitched a shutout for Boston. Rask wasn’t dressed Tuesday night, out with what the team called “general soreness.” Expect him to play Thursday.
Boston fell to 3-8 in shootouts this season, losing eight of its past nine. Buffalo is a surprising 9-7 this season in extra time, 8-5 in shootouts.
Center Tyler Ennis beat Bruins goaltender Niklas Svedberg for the only goal of the shootout.
“I kind of told myself I am not losing three shootouts in a row here,” Lindback said. “It felt good, it’s tough, but Ennis made a nice move, and it’s always nice when you have a goal up there. This time we were able to pull it out.”
The Bruins began the night 26-1-2 this season when leading after two periods.
Right winger Loui Eriksson scored 9:55 into the game to give Boston the lead, but the Sabres tied it on a power-play goal by defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen 1:23 into the third period.
The Sabres had 10 shots through two periods but then broke through early in the third. They were 0-for-15 on the power play before connecting against Washington on Monday night, and they added another tally on the man-advantage Tuesday. Ristolainen’s shot hit two Bruins — left winger Chris Kelly and then defenseman Matt Bartkowski — and beat Svedberg.
NOTES: Bruins C David Krejci missed his 12th consecutive game with a knee injury but is skating and could return as early as this weekend. … With G Tuukka Rask resting because of general soreness, the Bruins recalled G Jeremy Smith from Providence, and he dressed as Niklas Svedberg’s backup. … G Matt Hackett, who sustained a torn ACL at TD Garden last April, was supposed to start in goal for Buffalo, but Sabres coach Ted Nolan switched and gave Anders Lindback his fourth straight start. … The Bruins wore green St. Patrick’s Day jerseys in warmups, with the shirts to be auctioned for the club’s foundation. … The Sabres host the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.