Things didn’t work out for Taylor Hall during his brief time with theBuffalo Sabres. However, he’s already paying dividends for the Boston Bruins.
Returning to Buffalo for the first time since being traded earlier this month, Hall looks to continue his solid play for the streaking Bruins on Tuesday night. Boston has won four straight games heading into the first of three straight meetings with the Sabres over four days.
Hall, the 2018 Hart Trophy winner, was Buffalo’s most notable 2020-21 offseason acquisition, but had just two goals with 17 assists over 37 games for the Sabres. Since being dealt to Boston, along with Curtis Lazar for Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick on April 12, Hall has already matched that goal total and has an assist through four games.
The Bruins, owners of the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division, have won all four games since Hall arrived. His Bruins’ tenure began April 13, with a 3-2 home shootout victory over the Sabres, who are 0-6-2 in this series since a 4-2 win at Boston on Dec. 16, 2018.
“We all know that his skill level is really high,” new teammate David Pastrnak told NBC Sports Boston about Hall.
“It’s been really nice to have him, and he’s been playing unbelievable for us so far. We’re really happy to have him here.”
Hall assisted on David Krejci’s second goal during Boston’s 6-3 win over Washington on Sunday. Hall will definitely get reacquainted with his former club when the teams face off Tuesday, Thursday and Friday — all at Buffalo.
Even though Buffalo is last in the East and will miss the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season, it’s 6-3-2 since that franchise-record 18-game winless rut (0-15-3) and currently in a 3-1-1 stretch following Sunday’s 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh. Sam Reinhart scored two of his team-leading 17 goals against the Penguins.
“We’re in a position where we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Reinhart, who has six goals with four assists over a 13-game stretch. “So, we’re out there trying to play fast. (Just) play hockey. That’s all we really do at this point.”
With Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton still injured, Buffalo’s Dustin Tokarski (2-5-2, 3.15 GAA) likely makes a fourth straight start after posting 99 saves while winning two of the last three. Michael Houser could make his NHL debut in net at some point this week.
Boston’s Tuukka Rask (10-4-2, 2.36 GAA) made 30 saves versus Washington on Sunday, but has not faced Buffalo since December 2019. While fellow Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak is off COVID-19 protocol, it’s uncertain when he will return to action. Rookie backup Jeremy Swayman is 4-1-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average this season and made 21 saves in that shootout win over Buffalo this month.
Krejci has three goals with two assists in Boston’s last four games, and one goal with four helpers in the three meetings with Buffalo in 2020-21. Pastrnak has a goal with two assists against the Sabres this season.
Buffalo’s Casey Mittelstadt has recorded seven goals with three assists in his last 11 games. However, he and Reinhart have combined for just one point in three meetings against the Bruins.
–Field Level Media