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Monday, April 19, 2010
First period quick hits

By Joe McDonald

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins finally played a strong first period in this series and produced a highly intense opening frame against the Buffalo Sabres.

The game is knotted at 1 with the Sabres’ Michael Grier scoring first for Buffalo before the Bruins’ Dennis Wideman scored for Boston.

The game is very physical and has your typical playoff pace. The Bruins used terrific puck movement in the first 20 minutes that resulted in 10 shots on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

After Grier gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead at 6:57 on a shot that Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask probably wishes he had back, Rask remained calm and came up with a huge save moments later.

Buffalo’s game plan is similar to Boston’s and that’s to get traffic in front of the goalie and get shots from the point. When the Sabres’ Toni Lydman let a blistering slap shot go from the left point, Rask got himself square to the puck despite a screen, made the initial save and gloved the rebound.

That save proved crucial.

During a 4-on-4, 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 only a couple of weeks ago that Wideman was getting booed on home ice, but he’s played well down the stretch and has really picked up his game in the playoffs.

“That’s him turning the corner,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien prior to the game. “It’s been a tough year for him ... How you finish is probably more important than anything else because that’s how you’re remembered. I think he’s got the opportunity to make people forget a lot of struggles he’s gone through at the beginning of the season by having a strong finish. He’s been good the last month or plus and he’s given us the kind of hockey we expect out of him.”

It was the first playoff goal of his NHL career.