Bruins defeat Sabres, strengthen hold in MassMutual East Division


BOSTON — Craig Smith scored a hat trick and the Boston Bruins gained ground in the MassMutual East Division with a 6-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday.

Jeremy Swayman made 17 saves and David Krejci had three assists for the Bruins (30-14-6), who have won three in a row and are in third place in the East. They lead the fourth-place New York Islanders by one point in the eight-team division. The Islanders play the Rangers later Saturday.

The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Sabres goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen allowed three goals on 29 shots through two periods before leaving with an injury. Dustin Tokarski made 11 saves in relief for Buffalo (13-32-7), which has lost four straight games.

Smith gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead with a tap-in from the top of the Sabres crease at 1:21 of the first period.

Riley Sheahan‘s shorthanded goal at 12:35 tied it 1-1.

Sean Kuraly put Boston ahead 2-1 at 16:38 when he scored his first goal in 31 games.

Patrice Bergeron made it 3-1 at 5:36 of the second period.

Nick Ritchie scored to make it 4-1 at 3:18 of the third. Smith extended the Bruins lead to 5-1 at 5:31.

Arttu Ruotsalainen scored for Buffalo at 7:02 to make it 5-2.

Smith scored his third goal on a power play at 14:05 for the 6-2 final.

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