OUTCOME: The Boston Bruins cranked up their intensity level and built on their momentum with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Monday night at TD Garden. Boston now has a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Bruins defenseman Dennis Wideman and forward Patrice Bergeron netted the goals en route to victory. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask was solid again and finished with 32 saves.
TURNING POINT: With the Bruins trailing 1-0 late in the first period, each team had a man in the box and it was during that 4-on-4 that Boston gained momentum. The Bruins transitioned into the offensive zone when Vladimir Sobotka left a perfectly placed drop pass for Wideman, who absolutely blasted a one-timer past Miller to tie the game at 1-1 at 15:17. It was a huge goal, and not only did it ignite the fans, it gave a huge boost to the Bruins.
BIG JOHNNY BOYCHUK: With the game still tied after two periods, and despite the lack of scoring, the intensity did not waver from either team. But the Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk made the crowd come off its feet early in the second period with a devastating open-ice check on the Sabres’ Matt Ellis. Boston had just completed an offensive barrage on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller when Buffalo finally got control of the puck and started to transition out of its zone. Then Boychuk stepped up and completely flattened Ellis. The Sabres’ winger got to his skates slowly and went to the locker room, holding his left shoulder. He did eventually return. Just to keep the fans at the Garden fired up, they kept showing the hit on the JumboTron. The Sabres already have an issue with Boychuk because they figure it was his “two-hander” that injured their regular-season top goal scorer Thomas Vanek in Game 2 last Saturday in Buffalo. Vanek missed the rest of that game and was scratched for tonight’s game.
UP NEXT: The critical Game 4. Boston has a chance to go up 3-1 in this series if it can win one more game at home on Wednesday before returning to Buffalo for Game 5. The Bruins clearly have the momentum and need a victory.
HISTORY ON ITS SIDE: Boston has a 21-8 record overall when taking a 2-1 series lead and a 17-7 mark when leading a best-of-seven series by a 2-1 margin after Game 3.