Evander Kane fired 11 shots on goal Thursday night against the Boston Bruins, but it’s the one attempt that didn’t get through that stuck in his mind after the Buffalo Sabres’ 3-2 loss.
Kane had a golden opportunity from the front of the Boston net in the dying seconds of an overtime power play to score the game-winning goal, but his attempted shot never got to the net after his stick broke.
That came after Kane had taken a penalty earlier in the overtime that his teammates were able to kill off. Sabres coach Dan Bylsma turned to Kane in the shootout, but he was foiled by Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
“Went to him in the shootout because he did have that night,” Bylsma said. “He was shooting the puck from all over. … Overtime, I’d love to see his stick not break there from that look he had. That’s right where he’s money from, and his stick breaks. That’s why we turned to him in the shootout. I felt like he had the hot hand.”
Kane did put Buffalo up, 1-0, in the first period with his 12th goal of the season. After linemate Brian Gionta rang a shot off the goal post to the left of Rask, the puck stayed in the Bruins’ zone. Gionta eventually got it to the front of the net, where Kane pounced on it.
“I thought ‘Gio’ scored there, but he got the puck back, made a nice play and we were able to put it away,” Kane said. “It was a good start for our line early on in the game. I thought we as a group could have had at least three or four more. We had a couple posts, a couple close opportunities, but weren’t able to capitalize.”
Kane’s goal was his second in the past three games and continued a stretch of solid play.
“That’s as strong and as big as he’s played,” Bylsma said.
As a line, Kane, Gionta and Johan Larsson have meshed well in recent games.
“We’re using our speed,” Kane said. “We’re getting on teams pretty quick and kind of surprising them with our quickness and speed. That creates turnovers and can create offense. I think the last couple games we’ve been doing a pretty good job of that.”
The stick Kane broke in overtime was his third of the game. Not surprisingly, then, the frustration with that overshadowed any satisfaction from an otherwise solid performance.
“I thought we had a lot of chances,” Kane said. “The game could have been, I think, over a little earlier. … We weren’t able to seal it at the end.”
Sabres goalie Chad Johnson made 31 saves, the best of which came in overtime when he stoned Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron directly in front of the Buffalo net.
“I knew Bergeron had a set play there where he grabs it, tries to turn and spin it,” Johnson said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get there with a push, so I just tried to reach back and get my glove there.”
While Johnson made the highlight real with that save, he was beaten for a lowlight-reel goal – at least from the Sabres’ perspective – earlier in the game. Bruins leading scorer Brad Marchand went coast to coast early in the third period, scoring the tying goal on a backhand from a poor angle. From Boston’s perspective, the goal was SportsCenter-worthy.
Bylsma, however, had a different opinion.
“That’s not a good shot. It’s not a good goal,” he said. “He looks like he’s going paddle down for a possible cut to the net. I don’t know if it caught him a little bit by surprise. Obviously disappointing to let that one go by him.”
It turns out there was a perfectly logical reason why five people in Montreal were dressed in identical Rasmus Ristolainen jerseys on Wednesday night.
They are all good friends of the Buffalo Sabres’ defenseman from his hometown of Turku, Finland, who made the trip over from Europe.
“They came here for the All-Star break and they’re staying here for this week,” Ristolainen said. “They wanted to come for one road game, and I think a game against Montreal was pretty good. It’s a good atmosphere there. We got a good win, too, so it was nice.”
Ristolainen’s crew, which got plenty of TV time on the MSG broadcast, posed for a picture with the defenseman after the game. They were in the stands again Thursday – sporting their No. 55 jerseys, of course – and even directed the First Niagara Center crowd to cheer before the start of the third period.