Defenseman Johnny Boychuk scored the game-winning goal at 12:56 of the third period while red-hot David Krejci added an insurance marker late in regulation, as the Boston Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres by a 3-1 count Thursday night at TD Garden.
By virtue of the victory, Boston won consecutive games for the first time in nearly two months -- the last time being back on January 10 and 12. The win kept the Bruins three points ahead of the Ottawa Senators for the Northeast Division lead, and pulled the B's to within eight points of the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference lead.
After going on a 6-0-1 run to get back into the race for the postseason, Buffalo dropped their second game in their last three outings. The Sabres are two points behind both the eighth place Washington Capitals and ninth place Winnipeg Jets in the East standings.
The night did get off to a good start for the visitors, as captain Jason Pominville beat Boston's Tim Thomas top shelf to the short side with a slap shot from the right hash mark for his 25th goal of the season late in the opening period to give Buffalo a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
Netminder Jhonas Enroth, starting in place of Ryan Miller, who was given the night off after starting the past 10 games, was very good in the opening frame, keeping Boston off the board even though his club was outshot by a 13-6 margin.
The Sabres' goaltender shutout the Bruins until late in the second period, when Gregory Campbell was finally able to solve Enroth with just 1:51 remaining in the middle stanza. Campbell was skating past Enroth and deflected a Shawn Thornton blue line blast over the goalie's glove for his seventh goal of the year to tie the game at 1-1 after two periods.
Boychuk broke the tie as he notched his fourth goal of the season with just 7:04 left in regulation, launching a blistering slap shot from the top of the right circle that found its way through Enroth, who was screened by two of his own teammates.
Milan Lucic set up Krejci for the insurance tally, sending a pass from the top of the left circle that gave Krejci some separation in alone on the Buffalo cage. Krejci deked Enroth to the ice, then calmly flipped a shot high into the net for his 18th goal of the year and fifth in his last five games and a 3-1 lead.
The goal provided a nail in the Sabres' coffin by staking the Bruins to a two-goal lead with only 4:06 remaining in the contest.
Thomas stopped 19 of 20 Buffalo shots to improve his record to 29-15-0 for the season.
Though Enroth was solid in making 25 saves on 28 Boston offerings, he dropped his 10th straight decision (0-8-2) to fall to an 8-11-3 record for the year.