BOSTON - A little-known player and few big misses put an end to Boston's longest winning streak in nearly 36 years.
Recent call-up Matt Ellis scored his second and third goals of the season to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 4-2 win over Boston on Saturday, snapping the Bruins' 10-game winning streak and handing them their first home loss since late October.
"I guess all good things come to an end and unfortunately it was finally ours," Boston coach Claude Julien said.
It was the Bruins' longest winning streak since March 1973, and just their third home loss of the season. Boston's last loss at the TD Banknorth Garden was a 4-2 setback to Toronto on Oct. 23. The other was a 2-1 shootout loss against Pittsburgh in the home opener.
"We were having a lot of fun on this 10-game stretch and we wanted to keep it going," said Boston centre Marc Savard, who missed a pair of open nets in the first period - two of three glaring chances the Bruins failed on.
Thomas Vanek had his team-leading 26th goal and Paul Gaustad also scored for the Sabres, who had lost four of their previous six - two in overtime.
"We played well. We (treated this) as a playoff game," Vanek said, in the midst of an unusually loud and jubilant locker-room. "Boston's right now one of the, if not the hottest teams. To come in their building and get two points is big for our hockey club right now. I think we slowed them down."
Ellis, recalled from Portland of the AHL on Dec. 8, spent the first six weeks with the club before going to the minors due to limited space on the roster.
Ellis started last year with Detroit before being claimed on waivers by Los Angeles. After starting in training camp with the Kings, he was claimed on waivers by the Sabres on Oct 1.
"I try to make the most of each day I spend in the National Hockey League," he said. "I definitely love it here. It's the best league in the world and I'm trying to do everything I can to stay."
Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 24th for Boston, and Shawn Thornton had the other goal.
Ryan Miller made 29 saves for the Sabres and benefited from Boston's misplaced shots at three open nets.
"We were pretty fortunate all year," Thornton said. "A lot of pucks had been going in the net. (Today) it wasn't."
Buffalo grabbed a 1-0 lead on Ellis' first goal 3:20 into the game. Henrik Tallinder's shot from the point trickled behind goalie Tim Thomas and Ellis poked the puck into the net.
Vanek's power-play goal gave the Sabres a 2-0 edge 1:48 later, when he redirected Derek Roy's shot by Thomas.
The Bruins cut it to 2-1 when Kessel one-timed Savard's cross-ice pass for a power-play goal at 10:46.
Savard had a rough opening period when he failed to lift the puck over a sprawling Miller into an empty net and misfired from the right side of an open net with 6 1/2 minutes to play, dribbling the puck into the crease.
Ellis' second of the game - and just the fifth of his career - made it 3-1 at 3:04 of the second. The winger swooped in for the rebound and lifted it over Thomas.
Boston cut it to one on Thornton's score at 9:51, but Gaustad's goal increased Buffalo's lead back to two just over three minutes later. Gaustad, positioned in front, redirected Andrej Sekera's shot and the puck caromed in from Boston defenceman Shane Hnidy's leg.
P.J. Axelsson, alone on the left wing, fired a shot into the side of the net with Miller out of position late in the second.
Notes: Boston D Aaron Ward missed the third period with an undisclosed injury. ... The Bruins entered the day with the league's top four plus-minus players: Dennis Wideman, Savard, Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, respectively. ... It was the fifth meeting between the teams. They split the first four, with Buffalo winning one in OT. ... It was Boston's second of 10 home games this month and the Sabres' second of 10 on the road in January. ... Sekera was helped off the ice after taking a hit midway into the third.