Bruins get great equalizer
Ryder, Chara ignite third-period charge
BUFFALO — Did the Bruins make mistakes yesterday? Plenty, including the kind that end up in the back of your net.
There was Milan Lucic, who had drifted too far to his right, being way out of position to get in front of a first-period Tyler Myers blast — the rookie stared down a shooting lane wider than the Erie Canal — that was deflected and beat Tuukka Rask. Or Rask later in the first, letting a bad-angle Matt Ellis backhander slip by his blocker far side, a goal that gave the Sabres a 2-0 lead.
Or another Lucic error, which would cost him his spot on the first line. The left wing whiffed on the puck in the defensive zone, allowed Tyler Ennis to gain control, and watched helplessly as Jason Pominville rocketed a shot past Rask to give the Sabres a 3-2 second-period lead.
“Two mistakes there today on the first and third goal,’’ said Lucic, who switched spots with fourth-line left wing Daniel Paille in the third period. “First one, I got caught out of position. Second one, I didn’t make a strong play.’’
But you know what? Mistakes happen. All the time, even to the best teams. It’s how a team responds that determines its fate.
“Hockey’s about mistakes,’’ David Krejci said. “There’s always going to be mistakes. If there’s no mistakes, then hockey would be 0-0.’’
Including their 2-1 Game 1 victory, the Sabres were 31-0-0 this season when leading after 40 minutes. But the Bruins, down, 3-2, after two periods yesterday, burned the Buffalo net with three third-period goals to claim a 5-3 Game 2 win before 18,690 at
“We’ll take it,’’ said Mark Recchi, who capped the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:40. “Now we’ll go home.
“We came up here trying to get it. We got it. Now we have to go take care of business at home. They’ve got a good hockey club. We know that. We have to be a lot better at home if we expect to do anything here.’’
After falling behind by two goals, the Bruins tied the game in the second on goals by Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara. But following Pominville’s kick-to-the-groin goal with 3:19 remaining in the second, the Bruins faced the challenge of beating Ryan Miller at least once in the third period to spoil Buffalo’s perfect-after-40-minutes record.
“I don’t think anybody was down,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “I think everyone understood the urgency of what this game meant to our hockey club and hopefully going back home with a split. In the third period, I think our guys were determined to give it their best.’’
The Bruins kicked off their rally after Ennis failed to connect with Tim Connolly in the Boston zone. Ryder pounced on the puck and started a four-on-two rush against Craig Rivet and Andrej Sekera.
The formation was perfect: Ryder carrying the puck down the left wing, Vladimir Sobotka driving down the middle, Andrew Ference providing support behind Sobotka, and Blake Wheeler trailing the play.
“We made eye contact,’’ Wheeler said of the communication with Ryder, his longtime linemate.
Ryder gave the puck to Wheeler on the right wing. Wheeler had plenty of open space. But Wheeler read that Miller (26 saves) was out of his crease and challenging his shot. Instead of shooting, Wheeler slid the puck to Ference in front for a scoring chance in the high slot. Wheeler’s pass slid just out of Ference’s reach, but Ryder was in position at the far post to tuck the puck home at 5:23, making it 3-3.
Exactly two minutes later, the Bruins grabbed the lead. Krejci started the sequence by barreling deep into the left corner with the puck. Krejci lost control, but Miroslav Satan fished the puck off the wall and sent it to Chara at the left point.
As Chara reached back to snap a quick wrist shot on goal, Krejci, who had slipped behind Rivet, cut to the front of the net. Chara’s shot appeared to skim off the stick of Pominville, and just before it approached Miller, Krejci darted past the goalie to block his view, then eluded the puck. The next thing Miller knew, Chara’s shot was behind him.
“I stayed in front of the net, then when the puck came, I tried to get out of the way,’’ Krejci said. “I think their D deflected the shot.’’
Less than a minute later, Shawn Thornton was sent off for high-sticking, giving the Sabres their fourth power play. But Rask (26 saves) and the penalty killers slammed the door (the Bruins are 9 for 9 on the PK through two games) to set up Recchi’s empty-netter.
“Great penalty kill,’’ Recchi said. “Our penalty kill’s been terrific all year. They’ve been fantastic. They went out and did what they’ve been doing all year for us. Huge kill.
“Tuukka made the saves when he had to make them. That’s all you can ask. Thorny’s someone who’s meant a lot to this hockey club. Guys really stick up for each other. It was a high-sticking penalty, but I don’t think he meant to. You want to kill for guys like that.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.