When the Buffalo Sabres signed John Scott, these are the types of games they had in mind. They wanted a big, tough guy to stand up to the big, bad Boston Bruins.
He played his role in the third period Wednesday night, as the Sabres dropped a 5-2 decision at First Niagara Center.
But one of his key plays will likely put him on the suspension list.
The enforcer’s shoulder connected with the head of Loui Eriksson at 5:49 of the third period, knocking the Boston forward woozy. Adam McQuaid jumped Scott for a fight at the end of the play.
Both McQuaid and Scott received five-minute fighting penalties. Scott also received a match penalty and five minutes for a head check. He will surely receive a suspension for the hit.
“I’m not going to comment on it,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said about the hit. Scott was not available for comment after the game.
Even the Bruins were low-key when asked about the hit.
“We had a really good angle of it from the bench,” Boston forward Milan Lucic said. “A blindside hit to the head so the league will look at it and I know they’ll take care of it.”
“The referees called it the way I guess everybody saw it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It’s unfortunate but the guy who did it, did his job tonight.
“They’re going to be looked at. I’m not going to say much more than that. Obviously it’s disappointing. A key player gets hurt. I know there’s history here but the guy plays about two-three minutes a game and he targets your best player, one of your best players, that kind of thing. … It is what it is.”
Scott played 5:15 and had five hits and at 6-foot-8 his role has been to bring physical play and get into scraps when called upon.
The 31-year-old is in his sixth NHL season and second with the Sabres. But before the game, Scott said he sees himself as a calming influence on a young team. The agitator cultivates reassurance.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay here. I knew it would be a younger team and I knew there would be an opportunity for me to play,” Scott said after the Sabres morning skate. “There was a need for me here. I thought about it and I talk to the young guys and tell them, ‘Play your game, don’t be scared, do what you gotta do.’
“This is a young team, kind of inexperienced so I think I kind of bring a calming role to the team a little more. Reliability and a reassurance to the young guys that they know they can play their game.”
The suffering start for the Sabres isn’t just difficult for the fan base. It’s difficult for former players.
Daniel Paille, who played with Buffalo from 2005-10, said to Boston media that it’s been difficult for him, too.
“It’s difficult for me to watch because the people of Buffalo deserve a lot of good things,” Paille said. “They are definitely people that are passionate, and really support the Bills and the Sabres. I saw it really turn over to the Sabres when I was there. I still go to Buffalo and get recognized everywhere … It’s a community that cares about the team.”
With an assist on Cody Hodgson’s power play goal in the second period, Thomas Vanek now has 57 career points against the Bruins. It was the 50th game for Vanek against the Bruins. He has 29 goals and 28 assists versus Boston.
As expected, Chad Johnson made his first start of the season for the Bruins. He is 3-2-3 with one shutout in 10 career NHL games. He faced only 16 shots from the Sabres.
“It was just nice to get the two points, do my job and move on to the next one. The first period I felt great. My focus was there,” Johnson said.
Jamie McBain and Rasmus Ristolainen were scratches for the Sabres along with Patrick Kaleta, who continues to serve his 10-game suspension.