BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The East-leading Boston Bruins scored early and often in a 5-2 victory Tuesday night before a crowd of 14,840 at KeyBank Center, and the Sabres suffered more than a second consecutive lopsided loss dropping their early season record (7-8-1) back below .500.
All-Star center Tage Thompson will miss “significant time,” coach Don Granato said, after getting hurt when he blocked a shot with his left wrist in the second period. It was the second injury of the game for Thompson, who went to the dressing room in the first period for a cut on his leg after getting tripped by Boston’s Charlie McAvoy.
Buffalo will be without its leading scorer from the past two seasons for an extended period of time, just as top-line winger Alex Tuch is nearing a return from missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. Jack Quinn remains out until midseason with an Achilles injury sustained in summer training, and rookie Zach Benson is on injured reserve with a lower-body ailment.
Here are four additional storylines from Tuesday’s game.
It was a celebratory occasion before the puck dropped, as the Sabres honored captain Kyle Okposo for playing in his 1,000 NHL game.
Okposo’s children introduced Buffalo’s starting lineup, a tribute video was shown on the scoreboard, and Okposo was presented with a silver stick by general manager Kevyn Adams and a crystal from the NHL by former Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson during the pregame ceremony.
“Tough to put into words what that video meant and just that my family was there to celebrate it with me was extremely special. Definitely super emotional seeing what the kids had to say, what my wife had to say, and all the guys too. It was really special.”
Levi’s rough night
Devon Levi made 13 saves before getting replaced by Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen shortly after allowing the fifth goal late in the second period.
The Bruins scored twice in the opening minutes and had 3-0 at 15:14 into the third period, in what was Levi’s worst performance in 14 career starts. Luukkonen stopped all 14 shots he faced. On the other end of the ice, former Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made 32 saves.
After getting chased for the first time in his NHL career, Levi now has a 3-4-0 record this season with a 3.65 goals-against average and .881 save percentage. He was 5-2-0 with a 2.94 GAA and .905 SV% at the end of last season.
“Obviously, you hope he responds well,” Granato said. “You do what you can to help him through this. All of these situations are gained experience. Unfortunately, not good experience is experience that you need to gain. He’s competitive, he battles, he’s very intelligent about the position itself, about himself as well.”
Olofsson on the board
Victor Olofsson scored both of the Sabres goals, his first of the season in his 10th game played.
Coming off a career-high 28 goals last season, Olofsson was scratched for six games before injuries drew him back in the lineup, and has struggled to find his scoring opportunities.
“It’s been tough being in and out,” Olofsson. “I had a tough time to get going, but I learned a lot from last year being in kind of the similar situation. So you just got work out every day and hopefully take the opportunity when it comes.”
Olofsson was “opportunistic,” Granato said, positioning himself to knock in a rebound from the back wall for his first goal, and finish a feed from JJ Peterka on the second. Both came after the Bruins had staked a 5-0 lead.
Buffalo heads to Winnipeg on Friday night, the first of three straight on the road.
Visiting Chicago on Sunday and Washington on Wednesday, the Sabres return home on Black Friday to meet the Penguins, after losing 4-0 in Pittsburgh over the weekend. A four-game trip follows in a stretch of playing 12 of 16 games on the road.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.