He’s riding a hot streak

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 18, 2010

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BUFFALO — There is no debate about Michael Ryder’s underwhelming regular season, in which he netted 18 goals in 82 games. But there is also no debate about how he performed in the Bruins’ 5-3 win yesterday.

Ryder, owner of just one goal in 22 games until a two-strike outburst in the regular-season finale against Washington, scored twice yesterday to give the Bruins the offensive presence they missed for most of 2009-10.

“Certainly, that last game in Washington was good for him,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He’s one of those guys who’s also been disappointed in his overall season. But we had him score some big goals for us tonight.’’

In the second period, after a Vladimir Sobotka shot thudded off Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller and popped over his head, Ryder, having gained position, whacked the puck over the line before the netminder could recover.

In the third, Ryder started a four-on-two rush, played give-and-go with Blake Wheeler, and potted the tying goal at 5:23.

“I think we protected the puck well in the offensive zone,’’ said Ryder (two goals on three shots in 11:48 of ice time). “We had good cycle. When we’re strong on the puck, it makes things a lot easier for each other.

“That’s what we did well. We never gave up the puck and we used it to our advantage. We just tried to throw as many pucks as we could at Miller.’’

Ryder was credited with three hits, although not his biggest — a third-period thump of teammate Andrew Ference at the offensive blue line.

“Don’t know what happened,’’ Ryder said. “I had to jump back, then all of a sudden, I saw Andy. Pretty good collision.’’

Ference took the worst of the hit, taking a moment to get back to his skates. On their next shift together, Ference provided the middle drive that opened up Ryder for the back-door goal.

“Right after Rydes rocked me,’’ Ference said with a smile, “the puck was in front. I think I saw four of them.’’

Crunch time
Johnny Boychuk, the team’s No. 7 defenseman at the start of the season, was one of two blue liners (with Zdeno Chara) pegged for last-minute duty when Miller was pulled and the Bruins had only a one-goal lead.

“Whatever I do, just take a minute to look around and see what’s coming,’’ Boychuk said of his approach during the six-on-five situation. “Whenever I get the puck, it has to be a hard play.’’

With approximately 30 seconds remaining, Boychuk gained control deep in the zone. Boychuk sent a hard rim around the boards to clear the zone. Buffalo’s Toni Lydman settled the puck in neutral ice, but Mark Recchi stripped the defenseman and scored an empty-net goal.

“Didn’t want to end up muffing it, not getting it out, then having them come back and score,’’ said Boychuk (six hits, two shots, 22:25 of ice time).

Ramsay returns
Assistant coach Craig Ramsay, who missed Game 1 because of the flu, was back behind the Bruins bench yesterday, feeling better. Ramsay spent Thursday night at Buffalo General Hospital, then rested at the team hotel Friday. With Ramsay back in charge of the defense, assistant coach Doug Houda, who was on the bench Thursday, was back in the press box.

Beaten man
Over two games, the Bruins have put five pucks behind Miller. “If we score more than two goals in a game, I like our chances, because we’ve got a great goaltender,’’ said David Krejci . . . Sobotka led all players with nine hits in 13:04 of ice time. The third-line center, playing his sandpaper game, was called for goaltender interference at 6:56 of the first when he ran into Miller . . . For the second straight game, Mike Grier led the Sabres with eight hits. Grier was credited with seven slams in Game 1 . . . Patrice Bergeron won 14 of 22 faceoffs (64 percent). Over two games, Bergeron is 26 of 42 on the draw (62 percent).

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