BOSTON – If at
first you don’t succeed, just dust yourself off and try again.
That’s what the Bruins did in Game 6 of their series with
the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden Monday night after failing to capitalize on the
opportunity to finish things off Friday night in Game 5 at the HSBC Arena.
And unlike the first five games of the series where the
Sabres scored first, the Bruins were able to set the tone of the game early in
their 4-3 victory thanks to David Krejci’s power play goal at 13:39 of the
first period. Krejci took a feed from Mark Recchi and redirected the puck past
Vezina Trophy finalist Ryan Miller for the goal.
But despite having the 3-2 series lead — even without
scoring first — getting that first goal was beneficial for the Bruins to set
“That’s what we wanted to do for all of the first five
games, but it didn’t happen,” Krejci said. “It’s more fun to play with the lead
for the whole game so I think we controlled [the play of the game] pretty well
and we didn’t set back.”
So how important was that first goal?
Well to start (yes, I am going back to regular season
numbers), the Bruins were 28-8-4 in the 2009-10 regular season when scoring
first, while the Sabres were 14-21-6 when giving up the first goal of the game
during the regular season. To add to that, the Black and Gold were 19-3-4 when
leading after the first period and the Blue and Gold were 7-15-5 when trailing
after the opening stanza.
“I think that was one of our approaches tonight,” said
Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I thought we finished well. Even in a lot of
games we played well for 60 minutes, but I thought in the third period we
always showed our best.”
From start to finish the Bruins played a complete game,
thanks in part to their special teams.
After Krejci’s power play goal in the first period, Recchi
would make it 2-0 on a 4-on-3 power play when his snap shot from a bad angle
went past Miller just 61 seconds into the second period.
Not only were the Bruins 6-for-22 on the power play in the
series (and 2-for-5 on the man advantage Monday), but also the penalty kill was
spectacular as they killed every single Sabres power play opportunity in the
“Those special teams were good. There’s no doubt about it,”
said Julien about the importance on the special teams this series. “We’re happy
with both the PK and the PP and you need everybody in every situation going
well if your going to keep moving forward here.”
“I think it was a big difference in the series,” added
Sabres forward Thomas Vanek who returned to the lineup after sustaining an
ankle injury in Game 2 of the series. “But at the same time we had leads and we
gave them away. That didn’t help either.”
Giving up the first goal didn’t help Vanek and the rest of
the Sabres either, as they had to play with desperation early in the game. But
to their credit, the Blue and Gold made a game of it, even when they trailed
Patrick Kaleta would cut the lead to one when he took
advantage of a Dennis Wideman turnover and deflected the puck past Tuukka Rask to
make it 2-1 at 6:34 in the third.
After Krejci’s second goal of the game at 7:18 of the third period,
former Boston College standout Nathan Gerbe made it a 3-2 game just 22 seconds
after Krejci made it a 3-1 game.
The two teams traded goals again when Game 4 hero Miroslav
Satan gave the Bruins a 4-2 lead at 14:49 of the third period. Vanek brought
the Sabres within a goal again at 18:47 with Miller pulled for the extra
attacker. But the Black and Gold — who have gone through so much adversity
during the 2009-10 season — were able to survive the last 1:13 and clinched the series in six games.
“We’ve been through a lot this year,” said Recchi. “It was
about pulling together and not pulling apart. The guys stuck together through
some tough times…it was good to see and we have put in a lot of hard work.”