BOSTON — The TD Garden crowd roared only 20 seconds into the game Saturday night when Boston Bruins winger Chris Wagner shot a puck into the open net past Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark.
Those cheers gave way to a chorus of boos when the play was ruled no goal, the result of Ullmark being tripped by Sean Kuraly. That gave the Sabres a second chance during an important Atlantic Division matchup.
They could not take advantage. The Bruins were dominant from front to finish and ended their season series against the Sabres with a 2-1 victory. Buffalo (22-14-6) fell two points behind the Bruins (24-14-4) for third place in the division and went 1-2-1 against Boston this season.
Rasmus Ristolainen scored the Sabres' only goal with 2:38 remaining in regulation by shooting over Tuukka Rask's glove.
Ullmark, making his second consecutive start, made 39 saves and was mostly outstanding, aside from David Backes' second-period goal during a 2-on-1. Following the no goal, Wagner scored in the first period to break the scoreless tie.
The Sabres were without Jack Eichel for a second consecutive game, and the star center remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. In his absence, Buffalo was outshot, 41-32, and failed to build on the momentum from beating Florida, 4-3, in KeyBank Center on Thursday.
16-1: The Bruins improved to 16-1 this season when leading after two periods and 253-14-18 in that situation since the start of the 2010-11 season. The Sabres, meanwhile, are 6-11-2 this season when trailing after two periods.
Good goal: Wagner earned his fifth goal of the season when Rasmus Dahlin turned the puck over in his own slot. Noel Acciari quickly poked the puck to Wagner, whose snap shot went over Ullmark's glove for a 1-0 lead 10:10 into the first period.
Ugly first: The Sabres did not recover after Wagner's no goal. They made sloppy passes through the neutral zone, struggled to cycle the puck in the offensive zone and failed to create much traffic in front of Rask. Their best chance in the first period came when Jeff Skinner deflected Jake McCabe's shot wide of the net.
Another one: With McCabe joining the rush in the offensive zone, Rask made a blocker save on Evan Rodrigues and the puck went right to Backes, who rushed up the ice for a 2-on-1 odd-man rush. His snap shot went over Ullmark's glove for a 2-0 lead two minutes into the second period.
Penalty kill: By killing off their two penalties, the Sabres' penalty kill improved to 36-for-39 over its past 14 games. Their power play could not score on its only opportunity in the third period.
Dominant second: The Sabres' struggles only got worse in the second period. They were outshot 12-1 only 7:43 into the period and went 7:16 without a shot on goal. Buffalo spent much of the period in its own zone until it made a late surge. Jeff Skinner made an impressive drive to the net, only to have his backhanded shot gloved by Rask.
Blender: Following two ugly periods, Sabres coach Phil Housley changed three of his lines. Casey Mittelstadt was moved to center Skinner and Sam Reinhart. Rodrigues was bumped down to play with Jason Pominville and C.J. Smith. The only line that Housley did not change was Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson and Conor Sheary.
Impressive pace: Despite the loss, the Sabres' 22 wins through 41 games are tied for 10th-most in franchise history.
Skinner again: Despite the result, Skinner had another outstanding game with a team-high six shots on goal. Reinhart, meanwhile, failed to record a point for only the fifth time in the past 21 games.
Lineup updates: Defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Matt Hunwick were healthy scratches with Lawrence Pilut getting a second consecutive start. Remi Elie played on the fourth line with Eichel out of the lineup.
Next: The Sabres will host their first skills challenge Sunday in KeyBank Center at 12:30 p.m., and will return to practice Monday. They will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at 7:05.