Goal in second OT makes it a happy ending for Bruins
There were times, acknowledged Mark Recchi, that given the enormity of last night’s stage — double overtime, an opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead, Ryan Miller and Tuukka Rask making save after fabulous save at a pulsing TD Garden — he tried to process and comprehend how magical the evening really was.
“There are special nights,’’ Recchi said. “The playoffs are so much fun. So much fun being a part of and being on the bench. The emotions that go through a game. The ups and downs. Especially at this point, I soak everything in. It’s so much fun watching the guys and being a part of this.’’
But that was Recchi before Miroslav Satan ended the night and touched off a bench-clearing celebration in the right corner at 7:41 of double OT. As the Garden exploded and Satan, the hired gun signed in early January, was swarmed by his teammates, the Bruins could find few words to capture the elation of the 3-2 victory.
“Unexplainable,’’ said Johnny Boychuk. “An unbelievable feeling.’’
Unexplainable. The perfect word. It describes everything about how Miller, taken by surprise on Patrice Bergeron’s tying third-period goal, steeled himself and put forth a world-class effort in overtime to foil, among other Bruins, Satan on the backhand with a diving glove save.
Also unexplainable: In the most important game of their season, the Sabres were caught with too many men on the ice — Drew Stafford tried like mad to scramble back to the bench before the linesmen spotted his uninvited presence — at 5:50 of the second OT, giving the Bruins their sixth power play.
And there is no explaining how Michael Ryder, so down and out during the regular season that the coaching staff once gave thought to making him a healthy scratch, tiptoed his way through the Buffalo penalty kill to set up Satan for the goal that has seemingly buried the Sabres.
“Tuukka gave it to me, I looked up, and saw that I had a bit of ice,’’ said Ryder, twirling up the ice like the slickest of puck-moving defensemen. “I knew we didn’t have much time left on the power play. Just tried to get in the zone, then I saw Miro pretty open on the other side.’’
Ryder, who made a similar pass to a trailing Blake Wheeler in Game 2, then sat back and enjoyed the view. Satan drew Miller out of his crease. He faked to his forehand, then pulled the puck to his backhand. And Satan, the Bruins’ most recent champion (he hoisted the Cup with the Penguins last June), buried the winning goal into the open net.
“So patient on that power-play goal,’’ said Daniel Paille. “With Rydes carrying it in and seeing him, then Miro — how smooth he was carrying the puck to give us that overtime winner is definitely exciting for us.’’
And now the Bruins travel back to
Prior to Game 2, the Sabres hadn’t lost all season when leading after two periods. But in Game 2, the Bruins wiped out a 3-2 third-period Sabres lead by putting three pucks into the Buffalo net.
Last night, the Bruins found themselves down in the third once again — this time by two goals against a goaltender that looked virtually impenetrable.
The rally started when Cody McCormick was called for goaltender interference at 1:58 of the third. Nine seconds later, the Bruins were on the scoreboard. Bergeron won an offensive-zone draw, gave the puck to Matt Hunwick, then went straight to the front of the net. After Hunwick’s shot failed to get through, David Krejci found the rebound and tucked the puck into the net at 2:07.
Less than five minutes later, Miller was fishing the puck out of his net once more. Boychuk started the play by pinching down the right wall and winning a puck battle against Raffi Torres.
“It’s either you’re going all the way or not going at all,’’ Boychuk said. “If you get caught in between, it’s not very fun.’’
Boychuk chipped the puck up to Paille, who then got it around the boards to Bergeron. Before Miller could get set, Bergeron winged a sharp-angle shot that slid between the goalie’s pads.
“Second goal was my fault,’’ Miller said. “My pad was not sealed to the ice. It kind of rolled forward on me. Usually it’s just a butterfly and it hits me. I just didn’t feel it.’’
It looked like the last puck Miller would let in. During overtime, Miller turned aside a shorthanded Wheeler breakaway. Later, Miller slammed his left pad on a short-range Bergeron attempt. Perhaps Miller’s best stop came on Satan when he dived and got a piece of the wing’s backhand attempt with the tip of his glove.
“He was outstanding,’’ Recchi said. “Tuukka was great, too. But Miller made some saves where he was just tremendous. I’m sure in quality chances, we had the better quality. He’s a terrific goalie, but we’re finding ways to get the extra one that we need. We have to continue it if we want to win the series.’’