BOSTON (CBS) – Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff hadn’t yet publicly offered his reason for calling a timeout after Jason Pominville sealed the Sabres’ 7-4 victory over the Bruins with an empty-net goal with 13.6 seconds left Thursday night at TD Garden.
That didn’t stop Brad Marchand from offering his opinion on the Buffalo bench boss’s act.
“He wants to be a big shot, and not the best play to do,” Marchand said after the Bruins’ first regulation defeat of the season. “Pretty disrespectful. If he wants to be like that, that’s fine. We just have to move on.”
Well the Bruins and the Sabres will move on to square off against other foes until Feb. 10, when they’ll get back onto the ice together in Buffalo for their second meeting of the season. It will be their first of two games in five days. The Boston-Buffalo rivalry, almost always contained within the same division for more than 30 years, has endured a roller-coaster existence – most recently because of Buffalo’s inability to consistently ice a competitive team.
But if the 2010 playoff series between the clubs and the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller collision from November 2011 didn’t spark things up enough, the first matchup of the season between Claude Julien’s boys and Lindy Ruff’s upstarts definitely made the rest of the Boston-Buffalo contests must-viewing occasions.
It started with John Scott and Shawn Thornton plotting their in-game bout with an exchange of barbs during pregame warmups. Then Scott, who Buffalo imported over the summer to instill toughness, pounded Thornton so hard that the rugged Bruins winger did not return to the game. Over the course of the night, the goals came in bunches and the sticks, gloves and shoves were flying all over the place. Daniel Paille, Dougie Hamilton and Patrice Bergeron all bolted from the ice to the Boston bench and beyond because they were nicked up. Paille didn’t return.
With his team up three goals, Ruff called his timeout, he said, because he saw his skilled player Jason Pominville line up with Boston tough guy Lane MacDermid prior to the faceoff. Ruff could be seen barking at someone on the ice after the teams went back on the ice. Whether you or the Bruins buy Ruff’s explanation doesn’t matter. The timeout capped a glorious night that brought Boston and Buffalo, already playing at a playoff tempo an eighth of the way through this shortened season, into the type of stratosphere that will probably bring on more fights, plenty more body checks, and more postgame lip service.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.