The Buffalo Sabres are done playing games in Boston for the 1999-2000 regular season. Maybe they can find some other city where they can score goals.
The Sabres dropped a 1-0 decision to the Boston Bruins before 17,565 in the FleetCenter Saturday night. Almost incredibly, it was the third straight time that the Sabres have been shut out in Boston this season. They had a scoreless tie and a loss in the other two outings.
This particular loss ended a two-game Buffalo winning streak. It also denied the Sabres a chance to move into a third-place tie with Boston in the Northeast Division. The Bruins now have 51 points while the Sabres have 47.
The Sabres have been having trouble scoring in most cities lately, recording a total of just five goals in its last five games. One goal was good enough to beat the Ottawa Senators on Friday night, but the Sabres couldn't match that total Saturday.
"You look at the last three road games and that sums our offense," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We got one goal in Phoenix, one goal in Carolina and none tonight. We're not kidding anyone."
P.J. Axelsson had the game's only goal, coming a little after the midway mark of the first period.
Boston had the edge in play in the first two periods, but the Sabres put on some pressure in the third period. Buffalo had a 10-5 edge in shots in the final 20 minutes. Boston goalie Byron Dafoe stopped all of them, and he had 25 saves in his third shutout of the season.
Martin Biron played another good game in goal for the Sabres, although he couldn't quite duplicate his shutout from the night before. He finished with 24 saves.
By the way, back-to-back 1-0 games have taken place only one other time in Buffalo history. The Sabres lost consecutive games by that score in February 1990.
The Sabres will try to rediscover their offense in the two days before their next game. They will play the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at home on Tuesday night.
The Bruins and Sabres didn't score in their last meeting in Boston, which took place here on Jan. 13. The Bruins played the first few minutes as if they wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. Boston had the first four shots of the game, and kept the puck in the Buffalo zone for much of the initial play.
The Bruins' best chance came on a two-on-one break. Axelsson came down the left side and took a good slap shot from the faceoff circle, but Biron made the save look routine.
After withstanding the initial burst, the Sabres kept the play even for the next few minutes. If Buffalo had been able to score then, it might have been able to deflate the Bruins. However, Axelsson ended those hopes by getting his goal at 11:52. Joe Thornton had some open space on the left wing and let an open shot go. Biron made the save, but Axelsson beat Buffalo's Cory Sarich to the puck and tapped the rebound into the vacated net. Rob DiMaio also assisted on Axelsson's eighth.
"Thornton came down and took a big slap shot," Biron said. "The puck caught the top of my pad and it came right back out instead of going to the corner. I was a little surprised by that. Then I saw it was one of their guys (Axelsson) that got it. I tried to be aggressive but I got caught a little flat-footed."
Biron kept it at 1-0 a couple of minutes later with one of his best saves of the year. Andre Savage came out from behind the net and seemed to have Biron at his mercy. However, the rookie goalie made an acrobatic save that even left the Boston fans impressed.
The 5:44 mark of the second period saw the unlikely sight of Alexei Zhitnik receiving a major penalty for fighting. Zhitnik and Thornton tangled while coming out of the Buffalo zone, and Zhitnik gave Thornton a high stick. The Bruin retaliated, and the two exchanged punches for a short time.
Boston received a power play out of the skirmish but couldn't score on it.