When Milan Lucic gave the puck away to Tyler Ennis who quickly fed Jason Pominville for a goal which earned the Buffalo Sabres a 3-2 lead heading into the second intermission, he must have thought he cost his team a win. But the Boston Bruins fought hard and became the first club all year, regular season included, to defeat the Sabres after trailing through two periods of play.
Zdeno Chara and Michael Ryder had two goals apiece. Buffalo lost Thomas Vanek to an injury and seemed to lose their course with his departure. More on that in a minute. Surrendering a two-goal lead, the Sabres will fly to Boston hoping to split the two-game series there.
Ten additional thoughts on the game:
- Vanek got slashed on the knee by a back-checking Johnny Boychuk in the first period. Both got tangled up and hit the boards heavily. Vanek limped to the bench favoring his left leg and missed the remainder of the match with a lower-body injury. We'll keep you updated on his status. We're still wondering why there was no penalty on that blatant slash. However, he did get away with a boarding call on Blake Wheeler two days ago, so the referees are allowing extra actions everywhere.
- Milan Lucic saw tons of ice on his first shift by getting knocked down repeatedly. The Bruins forward was irritated with Toni Lydman in game one, but the Sabres sent a message early that they won't be pushed around. Patrick Kaleta took the body very well and even though he may have gotten the worst of a few hits he dished, he's doing his job.
- Zdeno Chara, meet Tyler Myers. After scoring the opening goal, the rookie skated right around the defending Norris Trophy winner creating a decent chance in a crash-the-net strategy. This is why the majority of viewers
believeknow Myers is years ahead of where Chara was at his age. There's no shame in being beaten by the best - re: freshman.
- While we're on the topic of these two defenseman, Chara used his veteran wherewithal to pinch in for an equalizer nicely. Later on, Myers was undressed by Daniel Paille (yes, Daniel Paille) in a typical rookie error as he played the puck instead of the man. Miller came up with a huge stop on the backhander to put his mind at ease.
- Onto the rest of the goals: Myers released a slap shot which went off of Steve Begin's foot to gather a quick lead again. Matt Ellis doubled that up with a backhander that hit iron before mesh. Vladimir Sobotka did excellent work in the dirty areas to create Ryder's first goal and in the third period, he added another on a nicely converted 4-on-2 rush. Game-winner went to Chara who sent a simple shot on goal fortuitously catching a Sabre stick on the way.
- With a minus-two rating, Tim Connolly must insert himself into this series very soon especially if Vanek is sidelined for a significant amount of time. He breezed around with the puck on a few occasions, but it amounted to nothing.
- Face-off percentages weren't a freshening sight for Buffalo as they won less than half their draws. Connolly and Derek Roy were the only two above 50 per cent while Paul Gaustad wasn't himself going just 8-for-17.
- Rask held his composure with a brilliant stop on a give-and-go between Vanek and Roy in the first period. His break-away stop on Mike Grier late in regulation preserved the win. Again, you have to consider that if Roy sends that pass to Vanek, there's a better shot of scoring. No offense to Grier.
- Boston wasn't as proficient in the second period as they were in game one, but got the bounces this time around and capitalized. They created lots of turnovers and give-aways which in turn created their third and fourth goals.
- Ennis' pass attempt to Connolly went behind him, leading to the tying goal by Ryder. I wonder how this game turns out if that puck lands on Connolly's stick. That's playoff hockey though. One chance, one goal.
Boston did what they set out to do and now have the advantage heading home for two games. If Buffalo can do the same, the series is back in their favor. Vanek or no Vanek in the line-up, it doesn't change the fact that everybody has to be better than they were today.