Buffalo Sabres' right winger Patrick Kaleta (36) battles for the puck while Boston Bruins' defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) and goaltender Anton Khudobin (35), of Kazakhstan, defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y., Sunday, March 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was both good and fortunate in stopping every shot he faced, giving Boston's sputtering offence time to finally figure out a way to beat Ryan Miller.
Khudobin made 26 saves—including reaching out with his stick to prevent Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta from scoring into an open net—to earn his second career shutout. David Krejci and Nathan Horton had a goal and assist each by scoring in the final 7:06 of a 2-0 win over the Sabres on Sunday night.
Though scoring is still an issue for a team that's been held to two or fewer goals in regulation in seven of its past eight outings, coach Claude Julien saw signs of progress.
"It was better, absolutely. And I think we're going to call it a step forward," Julien said. "The effort tonight was much better. We're skating better."
Boston won for only the third time in eight games (3-4-1), while improving to 2-5 in its past seven road games. The Bruins (22-8-4) closed to within a point of Northeast Division-leading Montreal in the standings.
The Sabres, meanwhile, continued to head in the other direction. In dropping to 0-2-2 in their past four, Buffalo (13-17-6) fell into 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings after being passed by the Philadelphia Flyers.
With starter Tuukka Rask getting a rest, Khudobin was the difference for a Bruins team that had allowed opponents to score the first two goals in each of the previous four games.
"To start off, 'Dobi' made some huge saves for us, especially early in the first period," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "And that kind of kept the momentum on our side."
There was Khudobin's stick save on Kaleta three minutes in. After misplaying the puck behind his own net, Khudobin stuck out his stick in desperation to get a piece of Kaleta's shot.
"I got lucky that I didn't get scored on, because it wouldn't be good at all," Khudobin said.
He was much better some eight minutes later, when he kicked out his right pad to foil Tyler Ennis set up alone in front.
"Oh yeah, that was an interesting save. I just felt under my right pad the puck, and didn't know where it goes," Khudobin said. "But a save's a save."
The Bruins finally cashed in on their few chances by getting to the front of the net.
Krejci opened the scoring during a scramble in front with 7:06 remaining, and after Horton was stopped twice by Miller. Krejci then returned the favour by setting up Horton for an easy tap-in in front with 4:16 left.
Sabres defenceman Andrej Sekera was in front of the net for both Bruins goals. He particularly accepted the blame on the second one for allowing Horton to slip in behind him untouched.
"I did not see him coming to be honest," he said.
Sekera's lack of awareness drew a curious remark from interim coach Ron Rolston, who provided several terse responses during his postgame news conference.
"I can't help you on that one," Rolston said, when informed Sekera said he didn't see Horton. "He was right next to him."
Frustration continues to grow in Buffalo for a team that's already fired its coach Lindy Ruff after a 6-10-1 start. And there continues to be speculation that the Sabres will continue shaking up their roster before the NHL trading deadline on Wednesday.
After dealing veteran defenceman Jordan Leopold to St. Louis on Saturday, general manager Darcy Regier suggested that he's open to any deal for any player—including Miller—for the right price.
"I wouldn't be surprised if there's a few more (trades)," leading scorer Thomas Vanek said earlier in the day.
Vanek missed his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
Miller finished with 29 saves. He appeared in his 491st career game, matching the Sabres franchise record among goalies set by Dominik Hasek.
NOTES: The Sabres were minus LW Ville Leino, who is listed day to day with an upper-body injury. Leino scored twice against Washington on Saturday, but did not finish the game. ... Of Khudobin's 10 appearances this season, three have come against Buffalo. ... In the two Northeast Division rivals' previous 266 meetings, the Bruins have the edge in wins, going 121-108-29-8 against the Sabres. Buffalo, however, had a 865-859 edge in goals, making the Sabres one of four teams—Minnesota, Montreal and Toronto—to have outscored Boston. ... The Sabres were coming off two shootout losses in which they squandered third-period leads. Buffalo's lost the lead in the third period an NHL-high 10 times this season and gone 4-2-4, according to STATS.