Bruins bounce back to blank Buffalo

Boston Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom (20) and goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) celebrate the team's 4-0 victory in an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – Jaroslav Halak stopped 32 shots and the Boston Bruins rebounded from a season-opening shutout with a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.

Brad Marchand set up all four goals, scored by captain Zdeno Chara, rookie Ryan Donato, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron on an empty-netter. A night after an embarrassing 7-0 loss against the NHL’s elite, the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, the Bruins had an easier time against the league’s worst team last year.

The new-look Sabres, featuring rookie No. 1 draft pick Rasmus Dahlin and Jack Eichel as captain, more resembled the team that finished last in the standings for the third time in five years. After receiving rousing cheers upon being introduced before the opening faceoff in their season opener, the Sabres were booed off the ice following the first and second periods.

Dating to last season, Buffalo has lost five straight overall and six in a row at home – including three shutout losses. The Sabres also dropped to 0-5-1 in their past six season openers.

Buffalo failed to score despite playing much of the final five minutes with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker.

Halak got the start a night after allowing two goals on 18 shots in replacing starter Tuukka Rask, who was yanked midway through the second period. The shutout was the 43rd of Halak’s career, and first since signing with the Bruins in July.

Chara opened the scoring 6:33 in, when he was allowed to skate in alone up the left side and beat offseason free-agent addition Carter Hutton on the short side.

Hutton finished with 22 saves and had no chance on Donato’s power-play goal nine minutes later.

Donato was alone driving to the right post, where he redirected Marchand’s pass from the high slot.

The 18-year-old Dahlin had an inconsistent night and at times looked hesitant in being matched with several defensive partners. He was on the ice for the Bruins’ third goal in allowing David Krejci’s pass through the crease go directly through his legs. The pass set up Pastrnak, who scored while being left alone at the left post with 3:44 left in the second period.

Boston improved to 5-2 in games after opening the season with a shutout loss.

… The Sabres have only 10 players on the roster who played in Buffalo’s season opener last year, and just six from the 2016-17 opener. … At 18 years and 175 days, rookie No. 1 draft pick, D Rasmus Dahlin, is the second-youngest player to open a season in Buffalo, behind only 1987 No. 1 pick, Pierre Turgeon (18 years, 41 days). … Bruins RW Chris Wagner, who played 13:10 against Washington, was scratched and replaced in the lineup by LW Anders Bjork.


Bruins: Home-opener against Ottawa on Monday.

Sabres: Continue four-game homestand against New York Rangers on Saturday.