BOSTON – Mark Recchi’s celebration was a bit delayed.
First he had to wait for the whistle to stop play. Then the referees had to get the ruling from the video judge to see that Recchi had indeed tipped Dennis Seidenberg’s slap shot into the net in overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
“I knew right away it was in, but then you’ve got to keep playing because you just don’t know,” Recchi said. “It went in the net, that’s all that matters.”
Recchi’s goal came 2:11 into overtime, but play didn’t stop until 49 seconds later. Boston fans, who had been booing when the referee originally waved off the goal, cheered when the replay was put on the scoreboard and began heading out to beat traffic even before the call had been overturned.
“I was just hoping for a quick whistle so we could look at it and call it a goal,” Seidenberg said.
It was a bizarre end to a game that started slowly but finished at a furious pace.
The Bruins ended Ryan Miller’s eight-period shutout streak in the first, then had to rally in the third period to force overtime. Boston got a power play in the extra time when Luke Adam, who scored his first NHL goal in the second period, raked Marc Savard across the face with his stick for a high-sticking double-minor.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Miller, who had posted consecutive shutouts and hadn’t allowed a goal in 161 minutes, 35 seconds dating to Nov. 27.
Miller made 33 saves for Buffalo, and Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots to help Boston bounce back from a shootout loss to Toronto on Saturday.
In their first visit to Boston since they were eliminated in the first round of last season’s playoffs, the Sabres took a 2-1 lead in the third period on Thomas Vanek’s goal. But Nathan Horton tied it with 6:21 left in regulation when Buffalo defenceman Mike Weber passed the puck right to him in the slot.
In overtime, Buffalo had a chance to win it when the puck went to Derek Roy right in front of the net, with no Boston players except the goalie to beat. Roy tried to stickhandle Thomas out of position, but Patrice Bergeron finally skated in to break up the play and keep the Bruins in it.
When the puck went the other way, Adam reached up and caught Savard in the face with his stick. The Bruins forward buried his face in his hands in apparent pain as the referee raised his arm for the penalty. Adam was given four penalty minutes, meaning the Bruins would have the power play for the last 3:14 of overtime had they not scored.
With the 4-on-3 advantage, Boston set up in the Sabres end and put together sustained, crisp passing until Seidenberg lined up a slap shot that deflected off Recchi’s pants, went over Miller and ricocheted off the back of the net so fast that the referee didn’t see it go in. The fans booed, but the Bruins seemed to know that the next whistle would end it.
“It’s a gut-wrencher when you lose like that,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Miller’s shutout streak ended when Milan Lucic sneaked the puck past him as he tried to squeeze the goal post to close the gap. The puck landed behind Miller and over the line; he quickly covered it up with his pad, but Bergeron pointed at the puck until the referee came over and ruled it a goal.
Adam tied it with 7:02 left in the second period when he got to a loose puck in the slot after a scramble and wristed it past Thomas. Vanek converted the go-ahead goal when he went behind the net for the puck and flipped it toward the net. It hit Thomas in the back on his left side and bounced in.
NOTES: Seidenberg played in his 400th NHL game. … Bruins D Mark Stuart didn’t come out for the second period, and the team said he wouldn’t return. There was no further information available about his departure. … The Bruins didn’t manage a shot on goal for the first 7:16 of the game. … Vanek also hit the post late in the game. … The Sabres are the only team the Bruins have never swept in a season series. … It was Lucic’s 13th goal of the season; he had 12 last season in 25 games while missing most of it because of injuries.