Krejci keys Bruins’ 4-1 win over Sabres
Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) talks with teammate Zdeno Chara during the first period of their 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, left, fights with Buffalo Sabres' Tyler Myers during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Buffalo Sabres' Zemgus Girgensons (28) battles Boston Bruins' Matt Bartkowski during the third period of Boston's 4-1 win in an NHL hockey game in Boston Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
BOSTON – The Boston Bruins keep rolling at home.
David Krejci snapped a tie and set up Milan Lucic’s goal as the Bruins earned a split of a two-game set with a 4-1 victory last night.
Reilly Smith had a power-play and an empty-netter for Boston, which won its seventh straight at home. The Bruins haven’t lost at home in regulation since late October, going 12-0-2 in their last 14 games.
“That’s what you’re trying to do every year,” Lucic said about Boston’s run at TD Garden. “You want to make your building a tough one to play in.”
It’s Boston’s best run at home since winning 14 straight from Oct. 25, 2008-Jan. 1, 2009.
“Every season we start talking about it, creating the atmosphere and getting the fans in it when we play against teams at home,” Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said. “You’re always disappointed when you lose at home.”
Zemgus Girgensons scored for the Sabres, who beat the Bruins, 4-2, in Buffalo on Thursday night. The Sabres, who haven’t won three straight this season, had a two-game winning streak broken.
Bruins Coach Claude Julien said the team’s overall play is growing with each win in its own rink.
“I think the more times you win, the more confidence you get,” he said. “We talked about it before the season, wanting our building to be a tough building to come in to.”
Rask, who was rested Thursday, made 34 saves, including a pair of key stops early in the third period.
Buffalo backup Jhonas Enroth stopped 35 shots and dropped to 1-7-3.
Sabres Interim Coach Ted Nolan felt like it’s even tougher for his team to win on the road when its not getting production from all if its lines.
“It’s tough to win in this league if you only have one line going and a couple of other guys and a goaltender,” he said. “Especially with us, we need a little bit more. But tonight it just wasn’t there.”
Krejci’s goal broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period. Trailing and coming down the center of the ice, Krejci took a drop pass from Jarome Iginla before waiting and firing a wrist shot past Enroth’s glove.
Krejci fed Lucic in the slot from the left circle, and Lucic beat Enroth with a wrister inside the left post.
Smith scored his empty-netter 21.4 seconds left.
Rask made a pair of right-pad saves seconds apart early in the third. Matt Ellis stole the puck from Brad Marchand near the blue line and cut in alone. Linus Omark fired in the rebound.
“It’s a one-goal game. You try and keep it that way,” Rask said. “We gave them some turnovers and they couldn’t score. I guess you can say it was a momentum changer.”
The Bruins were short-handed two players for a lengthy stretch in the second period after Patrice Bergeron was called for cross-checking, and Gregory Campbell got a four-minute penalty for high-sticking Jamie McBain 11 seconds later. Boston held Buffalo to two shots during the initial 1:49 stretch, and one when they were down one man.
Krejci felt like it was the truning point.
“It was big,” he said. “It was a long 5-on-3, but we killed that. From there it felt like we took over the game and were in control.”
Buffalo’s captain Steve Ott said his team didn’t challenge enough in Boston’s end of the ice.
“I didn’t think we did a good job of getting pucks behind them and then creating a fore check,” he said.
Boston was short two players again with just over six minutes left in the game, but Ott got a slashing penalty seconds into the advantage.
Boston took a 1-0 on Smith’s power play goal 9:39 into the game. Carl Soderberg sent a pass across the top of the crease to Smith, who one-timed a shot into an open side of the net.
The Sabres tied it late in the period when Girgensons banged in the rebound of Matt Moulson’s shot. Moulson’s wraparound attempt popped into Rask’s stick side.
∎ Bergeron had his first career regular-season fight late in the second period, taking on Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers.
∎ The Sabres had killed 14 straight penalties before Smith’s goal.
∎ Marchand was helped off the ice midway into the first period and was assisted down the runway to the dressing room area before returning to action a few minutes later.
∎ Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who is appealing his 15-game suspension for taking down, punching and injuring Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik, watched from the press box.