BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Benoit Pouliot and Kyle Okposo scored on consecutive shots in the first period and the Buffalo Sabres beat retooled Boston 4-1 in forward Rick Nash’s Bruins debut Sunday.
Evan Rodrigues and Marco Scandella also scored, and Chad Johnson stopped 34 shots. The Sabres snapped an 0-5-2 home skid against the Bruins. Buffalo had not defeated Boston at home since a 5-4 overtime win Feb. 26, 2014.
Charlie McAvoy scored for the Bruins, who were coming off a 4-3 loss at Toronto on Saturday night. Boston had gone 22-4-3 since last losing consecutive games Dec. 14-16. Anton Khudobin was not sharp in goal, allowing four goals on 24 shots, including being beaten through the legs on Scandella’s goal from the right boards that put Buffalo up 4-1 in the opening minutes of the third period.
Nash’s addition failed to provide Boston a lift against the Eastern Conference’s last-place team. The Bruins squandered an opportunity to jump into second place in the Atlantic Division standings, a point ahead of the idle Maple Leafs.
The Bruins acquired the 33-year-old Nash in a multiplayer trade with the New York Rangers on Sunday morning. Boston gave up three players, including forward Ryan Spooner and prospect defenseman Ryan Lindgren, and its first-round pick in this year’s draft in a deal reached a day before the NHL’s trading deadline
Pouliot opened the scoring with 5:34 left in the first period, and 11 seconds after the Bruins killed off a slashing penalty against Brad Marchand.
Sabres defenseman Victor Antipin’s shot from the right wing struck the skate of Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid in front. The puck caromed to Pouliot, who scored into the open left side.
Okposo scored a power-play goal 2:05 later with a shot from the right circle that beat Khudobin on the short side and with the goalie screened by Sam Reinhart.
McAvoy cut the Sabres lead to 2-1 during a delayed penalty 3:35 into the second period. Rodrigues regained Buffalo its two-goal edge some four minutes later by one-timing in Reinhart’s feed into the right circle.
Nash drew a notable cheer when he first touched the puck on his first shift from a large collection of Bruins fans in attendance.
Nash was credited with 17:27 of ice time while playing on the Bruins’ second line, centered by David Krejci, and earning a spot on the top power-play unit. He finished with five shots, which didn’t include a hard snapshot from the right circle which he banked off the far post on a 3-on-2 rush midway through the second period.
It was Nash’s first game since the Rangers played Philadelphia on Feb. 18. He was a healthy scratch during New York’s previous two games because the Rangers didn’t want to risk the possibility of Nash being hurt before he was dealt.
NOTES: Sabres LW Evander Kane sat for the second consecutive game to avoid the possibility of being hurt before he’s expected to be traded by Monday. … Bruins C Patrice Bergeron played despite arriving at the arena wearing a protective boot on his right foot after he was hurt blocking a shot at Toronto on Saturday. … The Bruins also signed Brian Gionta to a one-year $700,000 contract after was the United States Olympic team captain at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. Gionta, who lives in Buffalo, watched the game with his family from a private suite and was expected to join the Bruins for practice Tuesday.
Bruins: Host Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday to open six-game homestand.
Sabres: Opens two-game road trip at Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.
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