Maybe it was because the Bruins were coming off an all important win on the road. Maybe it was because the series was coming home all tied 1-1. Maybe it was the first home playoff game since May 14, 2009. Was it the fact the Marc Savard skated today and it openly throwing out the possibility of coming back this season if the Bruins can extend it? Maybe it’s because the Red Sox have fallen flat on their collective faces to start the season. I don’t know what the exact reason was but I have never been in that building while it was that loud. Thirty minutes before the puck dropped, the crowd was buzzing in anticipation.
As expected, the Bruins started quickly but like every game in the series, it was the Sabres grabbing the early lead on Mike Grier’s first of the postseason. Grier moved in from his left wing and beat Tuukka over his catching glove on the far side.
One thing I noticed was the Sabre defensemen pinch the offensive zone like they are playing in a bar league. We all remember Steve Montador late last year in a Bruin uniform. The guy would cause a heart attack every time he stepped onto the ice. He still plays that style, thankfully it’s for the other team now. Also for the Sabres, Andrej Sekera is a big risk taker back there. I would love to see the team expose these two when they are on the ice.
So with the Bruins down a goal, it was Sekera pinching in the offensive zone leading to a Bruin goal. Matt Hunwick’s outlet pass to Vlad Sobotka led to the Bruins tieing the game. As Sobotka gained the offensive blueline, Hunwick drove to the left post taking the Sabre defense with him. This left the middle of the zone wide open for Dennis Wideman to step into. Wide’s stepped into the opening and blasted a slapshot past Miller and the Garden erupted. “I was just following up the play. Vladdy (Sobotka) took it in deep and made a great backhand pass over the stick and it landed on mine. If he wasn’t giving it to me, I was probably back far enough where I could have gotten back but I just closed my eyes and shot.” When asked what he would have done with the same pass a month ago prior to his confidence surging, Wideman joked, “Yeah, it probably would have bounced over my stick or I would have hit the defenseman or missed the net. One of the three.”
After I rip the Sabres defense, there’s Matt Hunwick at Miller’s left post and Wideman stepping up on the rush. Good thing Wideman buried that one.
The hitting continued in the series led by Vlad Sobotka. Along with Zdeno Chara, they led the team with 6 hits each. The highlight hit of the night was delivered by “Sabre killer” Johnny Boychuk. As Matt Ellis carried the puck out of his zone, he never looked up to see the 55 Train that was on the same track. Boychuk’s dropped his shoulder right into Ellis’s chest.
The third period was a tense, hard hitting period much like every game of the series. Just when you thought the tension would drive you nuts, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi blew the roof off the building.
It was the oldest player on the team leading by example in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Dennis Wideman broke down the goal as simply as it could be described. “Well, I just passed it up to Bergy (Begeron) and he dumped it in and Rex (Recchi) went in and made a good hit, made the play and just dished it out to Bergy in the slot.”
Recchi was a little more detailed, “Yeah, I mean he [Tim Kennedy] is a competitive guy and I just happened to get the better of him on that one and I had pretty good position on him so I was able to keep control of the puck and that was what really made the play. It was good. We will take it. You never know. As soon as I got the puck, I saw Bergy (Bergeron) open in the slot and he is so good at finding that little area and it was great. I think it snuck through his arm somehow and he has a great shot and we will take it.”
Recchi dug the puck out of the corner, found Bergeron who one timed it past Miller before he could get set. Once again, the Bruins had a late lead that they would have to hold to win the game.
The Bruins were 0/2 on the Power Play tonight. For the series, they are 1/6 (17%). True to their regular season form, the Penalty Kill was 3/3 tonight and a perfect 12/12 for the series. I’d like to see them not take so many penalties and really, I’d like to see how they play with a lead earlier in the game.
This series is so close. Either team could be up 2-1 or even 3-0 but with a 2-1 Boston series lead, Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston. A win would really put the Sabres back on their heels, forcing them to win three in a row. To lose game 4 would give Buffalo home ice back. Be sure to check out William Brouillette’s thoughts from the Sabre side of things.
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Written by Jim Mulligan