Bruins 3, Sabres 2

Win is worth a second look

Reviewed goal lifts Bruins in OT

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 8, 2010

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It was the sound, more than anything else, that seemed a little curious to Mark Recchi.

“You could hear the clunk,’’ Recchi said. “It wasn’t the ting, that crossbar sound.’’

During a four-on-three power play, a Dennis Seidenberg one-timer had skimmed off Recchi’s pants, over Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, and under the crossbar to tickle the roof of the net at 2:11 of last night’s overtime. Trouble was, referee Stephen Walkom didn’t see it that way.

Walkom waved no goal. The play continued, with Miller making a slick stop on a David Krejci chance. But at the next whistle, the play went to video review, which concluded what Claude Julien saw from the bench: the puck rising over Miller and lifting the top of the net.

“From the bench, I saw the mesh go up,’’ said the Boston coach after last night’s 3-2 overtime win over the Sabres before 17,565 at TD Garden. “But you don’t know if it’s a stick that hit it or whatever. We saw Rex kind of signaling a goal. I just asked upstairs through [assistant] Geoff Ward whether it was a goal or not as the play went on. We were told it was.’’

The game-winning sequence led back to 1:46 of overtime, when Luke Adam carved up the right side of Marc Savard’s face with a high stick, just missing the center’s eye. With Adam in the box for four minutes, Seidenberg and Krejci played give-and-go during the ensuing power play. Seidenberg backed up to enter the shooting lane, took the return pass from Krejci, and brought down the hammer just as Recchi screened Miller.

“I thought it went in,’’ Seidenberg said. “Rex set a perfect screen in front of the net. It went off his pants, so it worked out well.’’

But there were several other precursors that set up Recchi’s winner. There was a late third-period power play, with Steve Montador serving a high-sticking penalty, that finally clicked after two previous man-advantages were wasted. Thirty seconds into the power play, Nathan Horton snapped a wrist shot off the right post. Later in the power play, the Bruins continued to apply pressure on Miller (33 saves) and the penalty killers, creating juice for their overtime four on three.

“It’s always important to get momentum,’’ Seidenberg said. “If not to score goals, to get momentum on the power play. Lately, we really haven’t been doing that. We moved the puck better tonight and got shots through here and there. We still have to be better.’’

Prior to Recchi’s deciding goal, the Sabres had the best chance in overtime. In the opening minute, after Zdeno Chara fell in his own zone, he coughed up the puck to Thomas Vanek. In turn, Vanek found Derek Roy open in front with plenty of time to work on Tim Thomas. Too much time, perhaps. As Roy tried to deke around Thomas, the goalie responded to every move, first sticking the puck away, then getting another piece of it with his equipment.

“I knew he was all by himself, so I had to make a decision whether to try to cut off the pass originally and get really aggressive,’’ said Thomas (28 saves). “I just decided to sit back in my crease and just try to match him move for move.’’

But none of the overtime fireworks could have taken place without a third-period goof by Sabres defenseman Mike Weber. Earlier in the third, Vanek busted a 1-1 tie from behind the goal line when he banked in the puck off Thomas’s left arm at 4:07. But the Bruins tied the score after Weber, from deep in the right corner, attempted an ill-advised pass to the slot for Paul Gaustad. Horton, reading the play, stepped in front of Gaustad, picked off Weber’s clearing attempt, and went upstairs on Miller at 13:39 to tie the score at 2-2.

“I was hoping he was going to,’’ said Horton when asked if he thought Weber was trying to connect with Gaustad. “I didn’t think he would. I don’t know what happened. Maybe he didn’t see me. It was a nice pass. I was just in the right spot, I guess.’’

In the first period, before Milan Lucic squeezed a bad-angle shot through Miller, the Bruins didn’t have many scoring chances. The Sabres, flooding the zone with their aggressive forecheck, swarmed the Bruins’ defensemen and kept them from initiating crisp breakouts. In turn, the D-men were forced to rim pucks instead of making sharp first passes, which the Buffalo point men picked off with ease. It’s an issue the Bruins have struggled with and might have to address via trades, assignments, or game-plan alterations.

“They really went hard after our D tonight and made it hard for them to move the puck,’’ Julien said. “We ended up rimming a lot of pucks along the boards, and their D’s were sitting on top of them. It didn’t make it easy for us. We needed to be a little better in that area.’’

That hammering Buffalo forecheck led to the Sabres’ first goal. As Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid tried to clear the puck from behind the goal line, Adam and Mark Mancari came down and forced a turnover. Thomas stopped Adam’s first shot, but the rookie found his rebound and beat the netminder at 12:57 of the second for his first NHL goal.

In the end, though, the Bruins were happy with the two points. Even if they came with help from video review.

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