Grier’s effort is a cut above

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / April 24, 2010

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BUFFALO — The sacrifice Mike Grier made to help the Sabres stave off elimination in Game 5 last night against the Bruins was evident in the form of a five-stitch cut behind his left ear. It was a reminder of the courageous block — one of three he made in the 4-1 victory — when he laid out to stop Dennis Wideman’s slap shot from reaching goaltender Ryan Miller.

The injury was loosely stitched, but blood continued to ooze from it.

But as far as Grier was concerned, it was only a flesh wound. “It hurt for a second, but it was all right,’’ he said.

It was a small price to pay to help send this best-of-seven series back to Boston.

“I think we were all just scrambling there to block shots and get the puck out of our end,’’ Grier said. “It’s playoff time. You look around the league, if you watch playoff games, you’ll see [Sidney] Crosby and those guys doing it, so you’ve got to do whatever it takes to get a win at the end of the night.’’

Although it left the veteran right wing facedown on the ice for a few seconds, Wideman’s shot was far from the hardest Grier has absorbed on the ice.

“Al MacInnis broke my shoulder pad once,’’ he said. “I think that was the hardest one.’’

The former Boston University Terrier helped break the game open with Buffalo’s third goal at 9:22 of the second period. It was a body blow to the Bruins, especially after Tuukka Rask gave up a pair of first-period goals, spotting the Sabres a 2-0 lead for the third time in this series.

Grier tallied his second goal in the last three games on a wrister after Paul Gaustad’s faceoff victory.

“The power play before that did a great job,’’ Grier said. “I think they had three or four chances and were close to going in and it got everyone excited and got the building excited. [Gaustad] moved me over there before the draw and that’s why he’s one of the best in the league at faceoffs. He felt he could win it there and it was a perfect draw.’’

But Grier, who landed three shots on goal and doled out five hits in 17:15 of ice time, would make his greatest sacrifice in stopping Wideman’s slapper with his head.

“[Grier] getting down and sacrificing his body and ultimately taking one off the back of the head is a little scary,’’ said Miller, who made 34 saves, including 20 in the third period. “You don’t like to see it.’’

Miller immediately skated out of the crease to aid his fallen teammate, and Buffalo’s medical staff attended to him. The sellout crowd of 18,690 filled HSBC Arena with a roar when Grier rose to his feet and wobbled off the ice to the dressing room. Grier returned at 15:51, just as Derek Roy was sent off for slashing, before Johnny Boychuk tallied the Bruins’ only goal, on the power play at 17:30.

“Mike sets a great example,’’ Miller said. “I thought every game this series he’s made some sort of impact.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at

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