WILMINGTON, Mass. – The Boston Bruins have been able to come from behind, and now they have the lead in their first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins took a 2-1 lead over the Sabres in the best-of-seven series, winning two straight despite allowing the first goal in all three games.
“Obviously, we want to have a better start than we’ve had the first three games,” defenceman Matt Hunwick said. “But there’s no panic if we do go down a goal or two. We know if we stick to our game plan and keep plugging away a bit we’re going to have opportunities and eventually we’ll score.”
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston.
“We win that game, we’re back in our own building with momentum,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
The Bruins improved to 6-3 this season against Buffalo, which had 100 points to win the Northeast Division and earn a No. 3 seed in the playoffs. But on Monday night, Dennis Wideman scored and then assisted on Patrice Bergeron’s winner to help sixth-seeded Boston rally from another 1-0 deficit and steal home-ice advantage.
“Although we’ve been scored on first every game, we’ve stuck with our game plan. We haven’t panicked, we’ve played well and we’ve gotten ourselves back in the game,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It’s certainly not the situation we want to be in.”
The offence-challenged Bruins – they’ve scored the second-fewest goals in the league this year, and the fewest of any playoff team – have been able to stay in games thanks to their goaltending. Tuukka Rask, who won the starting job from U.S. Olympic backup Tim Thomas, has allowed 14 goals in 10 games since March 27, losing just twice in regulation.
That’s allowed the Bruins to stay with Buffalo, which has U.S. Olympic starter Ryan Miller in net and was expected to have the goaltending advantage.
“There are a few goalies in this league that you know are going to keep their team in it every night and he is one of them. There is no sense getting frustrated at all,” said Bruins forward Mark Recchi.
“We are making mistakes and we have Tuukka making huge saves for us. We have been in these close games for a long stretch now, and have been playing playoff hockey for over a month.”
Buffalo has struggled to make up for the loss of top scorer Thomas Vanek, who had 28 goals in the regular season. He left Game 2, a 5-3 Boston win, with an undisclosed injury and did not play on Monday night.
Jochen Hecht, who had 21 goals, is expected to miss two weeks after pinkie surgery.
“I think with the personnel we are missing we are going to struggle offensively,” said Ruff, whose team is 0 for 3 on power plays in the series. “There wasn’t a lot of quality chances for either team. High quality chances come off of mistakes, so it’s going to be tough.”