Just when you thought this series couldn’t get any better, along comes the heroics of Game 4. Everything’s not all perfect in “Bruinsworld”. Just once, I’d really like to see the Bruins actually play with an early lead. That’s really the only negative thing I can say tonight.
After Monday nights game, I didn’t think these two teams could play a game that had more intensity and drama than what was displayed in Game 3.
I thought before the game this was equally important for both teams. I thought that whoever won tonight’s game would probably win the series. If the Sabres were to win, then they’d have the momentum, home ice in a best of three series and Ryan Miller. If the Bruins were to hold serve at home, they would have a 3-1 stranglehold on the Sabres.
Just 2:12 into the contest, with McQuiad and Ference both taking McCormick behind the net, it was Tim Kennedy knocking home a rebound giving the Sabres, once again, a real early lead. It was disappointing and it stunned the raucous Garden crowd. As Claude Julien said, “Well I think first of all we needed to have a little bit more urgency. I thought that after the second period, we played a team that played extremely well tonight. They played desperate, they played hard, and if we were going to win this game, we needed to show a little bit more urgency and energy. I thought we could skate better. Guys came out and did the job and obviously, again tonight found a way to win.”
Once they had the lead, the Sabres did everything they could to lull the Bruins and their fans to sleep. They played a great road game and unlike Monday night, they were winning the battles along the walls. They kept Miller’s sightlines clear and when that happens, Miller is unbeatable.
Things got worse for the B’s before they got better. Seven minutes into the second period, Steve Montador’s slap shot from the right point beat a couple Bruins defenders before deflecting off of Dennis Wideman’s shaft and past Tuukka Rask doubling the visitor’s lead. “ Things went right on that play and we want to do as many things as we can to make those types of plays as possible.” said Montador, ” We had to get it out, get it in, and get it on net.”
To start the final period, the Bruins needed a break. The Sabres were suffocating everything the Bruins did offensively and when they found an opening, Ryan Miller was there. Their break came less than two minutes into the period as Cody McCormick was called for goaltender inteference. The call was certainly questionable. I thought he was taken down and the resulting hit on Tuukka was incidental. With the resulting faceoff in the Sabre zone, the Bruins won the draw and David Krejci deposited the rebound off of a Matt Hunwick point shot to give the Bruins some life.
Four and a half minutes later, Patrice Bergeron tied things up. The key was Johnny Boychuk’s pinch along the right point. Once he won the puck along the wall, he kept it moving towards the goal line. Daniel Paille kicked it to Bergeron behind the net and Bergy was allowed to come out, turn and shoot on Miller. “The second goal was my fault. My pad was not sealed to the ice it kind of rolled forward on me. Usually it is just a butterfly and it hits me. I just didn’t feel it.”
Ryan Miller and Tuukka Rask both made saves in the first OT that kept their teams alive. Tuukka’s diving across the crease save on Mike Grier was both lucky and beautiful. “…you know, sometimes you make those desperation saves, and at least if you give an effort, sometimes you get rewarded.”
Miller robbed Miroslav Satan with a diving glove save. Miller made the first save on Hunwick but the rebound he left was right there for Satan. Satan flicked a backhander towards the open corner and Miller dove across and pushed the puck out with his catching glove.
In the second OT the Sabres got nailed with a too many men on the ice penalty. During the final 15 seconds, Tuukka Rask pushed a pass to Michael Ryder and he took it end to end, beating Grier at the line and drawing the other Sabre defenders. Once they committed, Ryder tossed a backhand pass to Satan who froze Miller and tossed the puck through the sea of legs into the empty net.
Be sure to check out William Brouillette’s thoughts from the Sabre side of things. This was only the second time this season that the Sabres have blown a lead going into the third period. Unfortunately for them, both have come in this series.
Game 5 is Friday night in Buffalo. In their history, the Bruins have lost once when taking a 3-1 series lead.
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Written by Jim Mulligan