The Buffalo Sabres had their backs against the wall and tonight they responded with their most dominating performance of the playoffs. After losing three of the first games the Sabres could have given up and looked towards next season but instead they showed up and proved a point. The point...We aren't going away quietly.
The Sabres scored the games first goal for the fifth time this series when Adam Mair took a shot from a bad angle and it found a way to get across the goal line. The Sabres built off that goal and dominated most of the first period, unlike the first four games when the Bruins seemed to answer every Sabres goal.
The Sabres incredible first period effort was rewarded for a second time on a horrible miscue by the Bruins Brad Ference. Ference gave the puck away at the Bruins blue line and it eventually found its way onto the stick of Jason Pominville. Pominville did his best Miro Satan impersonation and waited for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to commit before sliding the puck into an empty net.
The two teams traded chances for most of the second period but a Sabres power play turned the momentum in Buffalo's favor. Buffalo failed to score with the man advantage despite hitting the goal post twice and the cross bar once. Just minutes later the Sabres took a commanding 3-0 lead on a one-time shot by Mike Grier. Paul Gaustad won an offensive zone faceoff and Grier blasted a shot by Rask off the draw.
Boston through everything but the kitchen sink at the Sabres in the third period but Ryan Miller finally had his time to shine. Miller was outstanding most of the night but ironically lost the shutout on a floater from the point off the stick of enemy #1 Johnny Boychuk. The Sabres erased all doubt just minutes later on a diving goal by Tyler Ennis into the empty net.
The Sabres finished off a 4-1 victory to remain alive but there was more fight left in the Boston Bruins and Zdeno Chara in particular. Paul Gaustad gave Chara a slash to the back of the leg as the game ended and Chara came out swinging. He connected on at least one punch to Gaustad before Cody McCormick took him down to the ice. The Bruins were on a power play with the goalie puled which forced Ryan Miller to become involved in the skirmish but he Miro Satan just danced a bit along the boards.
- This was the most dominant 40 minute performance by any team in this series. The Sabres were outshooting the Bruins 26-14 and led 3-0 through two periods. The Bruins obviously put some incredible pressure on in the third but with a comfortable lead it was Ryan Miller Time.
- The NHL has an interesting situation on their hands with the altercation at the end of the game. Zdeno Chara was given an instigating penalty for throwing punches and that foul requires an automatic one game suspension when it occurs in the final five minutes.
47.22 Fines and Suspensions - Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) - A player or goalkeeper who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime, shall automatically be suspended for one game. The Director of Hockey Operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc. The length of suspension will double for each subsequent offense. This suspension shall be served in addition to any other automatic suspensions a player may incur for an accumulation of three or more instigator penalties.
When the one-game suspension is imposed, the Coach shall be fined $10,000 - a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.
No team appeals will be permitted either verbally or in writing regarding the assessment of this automatic suspension.
The rule is clear in that the league can overturn the referees ruling. It would not be the first time the league overturned a instigator penalty, if memory serves me, they did it with Evgeni Malkin in the Finals last year.
- Special Teams are still a concern for the Sabres. The power play looked much better tonight and came much closer to scoring than we had seen in recent games, but still they remained scoreless with the man advantage. On the other hand the Bruins only goal came with the power play to give them four on the season. Ironically they scored power play goals in each of the Sabres two wins this series.
- The Sabres are still the team with their back against the wall. The Bruins maintain a 3-2 series lead and the next game will be Monday in Boston.