BOSTON -- Talk about a day-after-Christmas present.
The Buffalo Sabres wiped out a 3-1 deficit in the final 10 minutes Saturday, erupting for three goals in a span of just over four minutes and adding two more into an empty net to stun the Boston Bruins, 6-3, in TD Garden.
With Boston seemingly in control, the Sabres pulled within a goal as Ryan O'Reilly scored with 9:39 left. Jack Eichel, in his first NHL game in his hometown, tied the game 39 seconds later by banking home a shot off the left skate of Boston's Kevin Miller. It was Eichel's 10th goal of the year and first in eight games.
The winnner came from Jamie McGinn with 5:36 left, taking an O'Reilly pass and flipping the puck over the shoulder of Boston goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
Eichel then got his second into an empty net with 1:18 left, firing the puck from his own end. O'Reilly added another with 50 seconds left on an Eichel feed -- giving the rookie a four-point night.
It was the Sabres' fourth win this season when trailing after two periods, tying for the NHL lead in that category with Washington and Los Angeles. The Bruins had been 12-1-1 when leading after two and were foiled in their bid to move into first place in the Atlantic Division.
On the board first: The Sabres opened the scoring at 5:13 of the second period as Kane pounded home his eighth goal of the season from in tight after a Zdeno Chara turnover. Kane has scored in two of the last three games while Eichel earned an assist for the third straight game.
Big Boston bounceback: The Bruins rebounded to tie the game 36 seconds later as Matt Beleskey tipped home a Kevin Miller shot at 5:49 and took a 2-1 lead at 7:05 as Patrice Bergeron took a Brad Marchand pass, beating Jamie McGinn and burned Chad Johnson between the legs at 7:05.
One, two, three strikes: David Krejci put the Bruins up by two goals at 6:59 of the third period, taking a neat diagonal pass from Loui Eriksson and sneaking in through the right circle. Johnson made one save, and a second before Krejci whacked another rebound out of mid-air to give the Bruins a seemingly comfortable cushion.
PK unit shines: The Sabres killed a pair of penalties to defenseman Josh Gorges, holding off a Boston power play that entered the game No. 1 in the NHL at 28.9 percent and tops in the league at home with an even more impressive 34 percent.
PP unit does not: The Sabres failed to score on their three man-advantage opportunities and fell to 0 for 14 over the last five games. The third one, early in the third period, ended without a goal and nearly turned disastrous as Frank Vatrano came out of the box after seriving a tripping penalty and got in alone on Chad Johnson but the Buffalo goalie made a save.
Hockey East reunion: Vatrano played against Eichel last year while at UMass and was a teammate of the Sabres rookie on the U.S. National Development Team. Asked who has a better shot, Eichel didn't hesitate: ""I don't know many guys that have a better shot than Frankie."
Close call: Chara came perilously close to opening the scoring during a first-period power play, move up into the slot and watching his shot go off both posts behind Johnson and out the crease without entering the net.
From the other side: Bruins coach Claude Julien admitted prior to the game he was curious to see Jack Eichel live even though he was pretty familiar with his game from last year's exposure with Boston University and Team USA in the World Junior Championships.
"He's a gifted player," Julien said. "I think he sees the ice well. I love his hockey sense. He's one of those guys that's strong on the puck. For his age I think his maturity level not just intellectually but also physically is pretty good."
In the house: The sellout crowd of 17,565 was the Bruins' 273rd straight in regular season and playoffs. Their last non-sellout was in 2009 against Tampa.
Sick bay: Bruins defenseman Torey Krug, a mainstay on their No. 1-rated power play saw just 5:03 of action in the first period and did not return due to an undisclosed injury.
Whirlwind of a day: With practice and travel prohibited by the CBA from Dec. 23-25, the Sabres took an 8 a.m. flight here and headed right to the rink for the morning skate. The players were provided with afternoon hotel rooms, returned to the rink for the game and then flew home immediately afterward.
Up next: The Sabres will practice Sunday before opening a home-and-home series against Washington Monday night in First Niagara Center. The teams meet again Wednesday in Verizon Center. The Alex Ovechkin-led Caps entered Saturday's game against Montreal 13-1-1 in their last 15 games and atop the Eastern Conference.