BUFFALO -- Eight power plays against, including three five-on-threes, usually translates into a bad result. But last night, although the Bruins played with fire against the Buffalo Sabres, they somehow avoided getting burned.
Instead, they picked up 2 points -- and moved into first place in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference -- as left wing Mike Knuble scored at 1:15 of overtime, lifting the Bruins to a 3-2 victory at
Defenseman Sergei Gonchar backhanded a pass from the right circle that sailed by Boston blue liner Nick Boynton in the slot and right onto the stick of Knuble, who beat goalie Martin Biron for his 20th tally of the season.
"We're not going to win many games when you take that many penalties," said coach Mike Sullivan. "I thought our penalty killers did a great job and our goaltender [Felix Potvin] was there to make a timely save when we needed it."
After a scoreless first period, with Buffalo outshooting Boston, 11-10, the Bruins turned the tables in the second, pouring 13 shots on Biron to just four for the Sabres. But oddly, it was the Sabres who went ahead when the Bruins kept parading to the box.
It started off promising for Boston when Ted Donato took advantage of a slow line change and had only Biron to beat at 4:05, but his shot from the right circle rattled off the right post.
Less than a minute later, captain Joe Thornton dished a pass to Glen Murray in the left circle and Murray got off a quick shot that Biron saved with his left pad. Knuble gathered the rebound and had an even better bid from the slot, with Biron out of position, but the netminder made a terrific stop with his left foot at the five-minute mark.
"That was a great save," said Knuble. "I don't think I'd change a thing on how I shot that puck. He just got his foot on it. He's a big factor in them getting a point."
Penalty trouble continued to haunt Boston throughout the period. With the Bruins outshooting the Sabres, 8-2, Thornton was assessed a hooking call for hauling down Sabres captain Chris Drury at 10:11. Only 1:11 later, Sean O'Donnell was whistled for tripping, giving the Sabres another two-man advantage. This time, they converted to take a 1-0 lead.
With 10 seconds remaining on the five-on-three, Dmitri Kalinin threw the puck down from the left point to right wing Jean-Pierre Dumont, who was positioned outside the right post. Dumont found the back door wide open and fired a shot past Potvin at 12:01 for his 17th of the season.
"The second period, I thought we controlled the game territorially," said Sullivan. "I'm trying to understand how we can spend a fair amount of time with the puck on our stick or with the puck in our possession and we continue to take more penalties than the opposition."
In the third, Bruins defenseman Dan McGillis made a goal-saving play at the 3:30 mark. Buffalo took advantage of a turnover and raced in on a three-on-one break. Left wing Jochen Hecht had the puck in the left circle and tried to give it back to Drury in front, but McGillis blocked the pass with his stick. Defenseman Jiri Slegr pulled Boston even when his shot from the right point made it through traffic in front and past Biron with 10:11 left in regulation. Biron argued, to no avail, that the Bruins -- specifically Travis Green -- interfered with him and knocked his stick out of his hands.
The Bruins dodged another bullet when they were forced to kill off their third five-on-three.
That set the stage for Marty Lapointe's go-ahead goal with 1:10 left. Former Bruins defenseman Jeff Jillson, traded Tuesday at the deadline, gave up the puck in the neutral zone and Michael Nylander moved the puck up for Lapointe, who beat Biron from the left circle to make it 2-1. It didn't last long.
Miroslav Satan pulled his club even with a one-timer from the slot that blew by Potvin with 24.2 ticks on the clock, and the Bruins moved on to overtime for the 27th time in 71 games, where Knuble sealed it.
"We were very fortunate at this point to take that many minors and wind up with 4 points on this trip, real lucky, and I think we all know that," said Knuble.