BOSTON (AP)Jake DeBrusk sat on the bench wondering when he’d see the ice again.
Then he made up for his early hiccups with two quick goals.
DeBrusk scored power-play goals 18 seconds apart early in the third after getting benched for much of the opening period, and the Boston Bruins completed a home-and-home sweep of the Buffalo Sabres with a 3-2 victory Sunday night.
“There’s obviously a lot of emotions going on. You care and take pride in yourself,” DeBrusk said. “It’s one of those things where I’ve kind of been in that situation before. You never want it to happen as a player, but usually I respond pretty well. It was nice to get the two goals there.”
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said it’s a message he needs to send sometimes when someone isn’t playing well.
“I think internally, the message you usually send, as long as it’s not personal – you’re trying to get them to play the right way,” Cassidy said. “(You) give them an opportunity to play their way out of it. It’s not like we buried him the rest of the game. He was back on the power play, back playing his regular shift. Give him the opportunity and he responded.”
David Pastrnak added his NHL-leading 29th goal and Tuukka Rask made 24 saves for the Bruins, who have earned at least one point in each of their last seven games (4-0-3).
Rasmus Ristolainen and Curtis Lazar scored for the Sabres, who have lost six of seven. Linus Ullmark stopped 19 shots.
“I’m just trying to help out as much as I can here,” said Lazar, recalled Friday from Rochester of the AHL. “I feel a lot better this time around here, making an impact.”
With Johan Larsson in the penalty box serving a double minor for two separate penalties on the same shift – one for tripping and the other for hooking – DeBrusk scored his power-play goals.
On the first, he circled the net and tipped Steven Kampfer’s shot past Ullmark at 2:37. The second came when DeBrusk fired a tough-angle shot from the left wing that hit the goalie’s right pad and popped into the net inside the near post.
“They got two big goals,” Ristolainen said. “That was a big thing tonight – special teams.”
Pastrnak double shifted, skating with his regular line – the team’s top one – and on the second in place of DeBrusk for a large portion of the opening period.
Rask made a couple of big stops in the final three minutes.
With an extra skater on due to a delayed penalty, Lazar’s goal sliced it to 3-2 at 5:08 of the third period. Lazar also hit the crossbar with just more than seven minutes to play.
Facing each other again after Boston won 3-0 in Buffalo on Friday, the Sabres seemed a bit more energized at the start, holding the Bruins without a shot on goal for more than 11 minutes into the opening period.
But the Bruins took a 1-0 lead when Pastrnak converted on their second shot, firing a wrister past Ullmark after taking a cross-ice pass from Brad Marchand at the end of a 2-on-1 break 12:39 in.
The Sabres tied it when Ristolainen was credited with a goal at 6:37 of the second. Rask came across and made a pad save on Ristolainen’s wrister from the right circle. The puck trickled between his pads and was in the crease slightly behind him when defenseman Zdeno Chara tried to poke it back under his legs but banked it into the net off one of the goalie’s skates.
The Bruins had three power plays in the second, but hardly generated any quality chances. In fact, on the third one Buffalo had two good chances that Rask turned aside.
NOTES: Bruins defenseman Connor Clifton left the ice in the first period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return. Boston was already without defenseman Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy. Krug was placed on injured reserve Friday with an upper-body injury and McAvoy is out with an undisclosed injury. … The final regular-season meeting between the teams is March 13 in Buffalo.
Sabres: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning on New Year’s Eve.
Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday afternoon.
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