Final, Sabres win 2-1: All season long, the Bruins said their failure to play 60 minutes was killing them. Tonight, they really played only 30-35 minutes of solid hockey, and they lose Game 1 2-1 in Buffalo.
Ryan Miller made 38 saves and Craig Rivet scored the game-winner in the second period as the Sabres now lead the series 1-0. Thomas Vanek had the other lamplighter for the Sabres.
Mark Recchi had the lone goal for the Bruins on a second period power play. That second period was probably one of the best periods of hockey the Bruins have played all season, outshooting the Sabres 24-8, but they still trailed 2-1 heading into the third.
In the third period, the Sabres suffocated the Bruins' attack. That combined with three consecutive penalties in the final 6:40 of the game made it next to impossible for the Bruins to come back and tie it.
Third period, 1:35, Sabres 2-1: The Bruins, behind brilliant goaltending by Tuukka Rask, kill off the second of two straight power plays, but they still trail 2-1 late in the game.
Third period, 4:20, Sabres 2-1: Just 20 seconds after Tuukka Rask saved the day and helped the Bruins kill off a third Buffalo power play, they have another to kill as Miroslav Satan gets called for delay of game after shooting the puck over the glass.
Rask had some amazing saves on that last kill, putting the Buffalo fans back in their seats three times after they thought they'd scored. But now Rask has to do it again.
Third period, 6:40, Sabres 2-1: The Bruins are going to be shorthanded for the third time in the game and are facing a huge penalty kill here.
Third period, 8:53, Sabres 2-1: Miroslav Satan has a brilliant chance on a 2-on-1 with 9:40 left, but Ryan Miller bats the shot away and preserves the lead. The Bruins are starting to pick up the tempo and it should be that way for the remainder of the game.
Third period, 10:42, Sabres 2-1: The Bruins are really getting some valiant efforts from their younger defensemen like Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid.
Boychuk lost a puck in the neutral zone and Thomas Vanek broke in, but Boychuk caught up to him preventing Vanek from getting off a shot on net.
Third period, 12:58, Sabres 2-1: David Krejci takes it to the net and almost beats Ryan Miller, but the Olympic hero holds strong.
The Bruins need to get that jump back in their game. The Sabres are doing a good job of shutting them down, but they are clearly in prevent mode and want to ride Miller and wait for chances the other way. If the Bruins take it to them, they can tie the game.
Third period, 16:28, Sabres 2-1: It will be interesting to see if it's momentum or frustration from the second period that carries over here for the Bruins.
Third period, 19:54, Sabres 2-1: We're under way in the final frame as the Bruins try to tie the game once again.
End of second period, Sabres 2-1: The Bruins did everything right in that second period — well, except taking the lead. They still trail by a goal after two.
It has to be frustrating to come away still a goal down after embarrassing the Sabres like the Bruins did there, but they have to take those positives and carry them into the final frame. They now know they can score on Ryan Miller, and they also know they can score on the power play after closing the season in a 1-for-25 drought.
The one worrisome sign from that period is that Craig Rivet's goal was similar to Thomas Vanek's in that a.) Rivet was allowed enough space to get off a laser on Rask and b.) Rask couldn't stop it. Rask has been great, but he seems to have trouble with high shots.
Nonetheless, it was a great period and the Bruins need to continue that attack in the third.
Second period, 3:32, Sabres 2-1: The perfect-so-far playoff power play for the Bruins is getting another chance here as Thomas Vanek trips up Milan Lucic in the neutral zone.
Second period, 5:50, Sabres 2-1: That has to really sting for the Bruins. Despite completely dominating this period, they're now trailing thanks to a Craig Rivet blast that beats Tuukka Rask.
Tim Kennedy had the helper there and did a great job of entering the offensive zone and drawing two defenders before dishing it to the Sabres captain.
You had to wonder if the lack of action was a detriment for Rask as he hadn't seen many shots from Buffalo in the period.
Second period, 6:39, 1-1: The fans in the HSBC Arena are trying to get their team going as the Sabres are dumbfounded right now at the Bruins' barrage of shots.
Second period, 10:30, 1-1: The power play was an Achilles' heel all season long for the Bruins, but they're 1-for-1 in the playoffs as Mark Recchi ties the game on the power play, blasting home the rebound of a Zdeno Chara shot.
As always, the "Recching Ball" was in front of the net to clean up the garbage and the Bruins' hard work this period has paid off. That was Recchi's 51st playoff goal.
The Bruins have simply taken it to the Sabres this period, outshooting them 20-6 so far in the middle frame!
Second period, 11:16, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins are going on their first power play as Toni Lydman was called for cross-checking.
Second period, 14:38, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins have completely controlled the tempo in the second period thus far, but Ryan Miller has been ready and is controlling rebounds.
Second period, 17:26, Sabres 1-0: Zdeno Chara is staring to let them rip from the point and Michael Ryder almost tipped one past Ryan Miller. The Bruins need to keep doing that and crash the net.
Second period, 18:51, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins killed off that Adam McQuaid hooking call and the Sabres are 0-for-2 on the power play as we're under way in the second period.
End of first period, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins are trailing 1-0 after the first period — and that could be an ominous sign, as the Sabres are 30-0-0 when leading after the first. They will also have to kill off the remaining 56 seconds left on Adam McQuaid's hooking penalty.
The Bruins seemed to regroup after the Thomas Vanek goal, but then they got into penalty trouble, and while there was clearly a missed call on Vanek for a hit-from-behind on Blake Wheeler, the Bruins need to maintain their composure and not let the bad calls get to them.
Tuukka Rask made eleven saves in his first-ever period of Stanley Cup playoff hockey, but Ryan Miller is shutting out the Bruins thus far and the Bruins will need to get the offense going. Rask will be fine, but the Bruins need to help him.
Faulty communication between Dennis Wideman, Mark Recchi and Matt Hunwick led to that Thomas Vanek goal, and the Bruins need to be better knowing each other's whereabouts on the ice and minimize turnovers created by lack of communication.
First period, 1:04, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins will be shorthanded again, as Adam McQuaid was called for hooking. They killed off that first Buffalo power play and the Sabres are 0-for-1.
There was also some major confusion on Zdeno Chara's original penalty, and Chara is back in the box. Get it together, you zebras!
First period, 4:46, Sabres 1-0: The Sabres are about to go on the power play, as Zdeno Chara was called for giving Patrick Kaleta a nudge from behind. A good old scuffle ensued, and we've got some bad playoff blood flowing, folks!
Get used to the diving by Kaleta. He will be a thorn in the Bruins' side during this series. He deserved an Oscar for that dive!
First period, 8:47, Sabres 1-0: The Bruins have calmed down since the Thomas Vanek goal, but they need to keep pressuring out there. Maybe they can go to Zdeno Chara at the point, more like the Sabres are doing with Tyler Myers.
First period, 13:02, Sabres 1-0: Just wondering what the referees were thinking there, as Blake Wheeler beat out Craig Rivet to avoid icing and yet the whistle blew and the faceoff is outside of the Buffalo zone?
But the Bruins can't blame the refs right now. Some sloppy line-changing cost them that goal. They need to communicate more out there.
First period, 15:08, Sabres 1-0: Thomas Vanek — the "Bruins Killer," as Andy Brickley calls him — has given the Sabres a 1-0 lead. The HSBC Arena is absolutely rocking!
Derek Roy had the helper.
First period, 16:22: Both teams have had some early scoring chances. The Sabres really like going to Tyler Myers at the point tonight.
First period, 18:08: Dennis Wideman is having a strong start on defense for the Bruins and helped them avoid an early Buffalo goal.
First period, 19:51: Under way in Game 1 at Buffalo in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
7 p.m.: Almost ready for faceoff in Buffalo, as the Bruins begin their quest for the Stanley Cup in the 2010 playoffs. Enjoy the game, folks!
6:55 p.m.: There are some changes to the Sabres' defense to report as well. Chris Butler is scratched and Andrej Sekera is in for Buffalo.
Here's the Sabres' blue line for tonight:
Henrik Tallinder–Tyler Myers
Andrej Sekera–Craig Rivet
Toni Lydman–Steve Montador
6:40 p.m.: Well, apparently head coach Claude Julien is reading the fans' feedback here on NESN.com because Naoko Funayama is reporting that he won't pair Matt Hunwick and Dennis Wideman, who have both been plagued by turnovers. Instead Wideman is with Zdeno Chara and Hunwick is with Boychuk.
Here's the defense for tonight:
Zdeno Chara–Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick–Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference–Adam McQuaid
Also, an update on the coaching setup tonight: Assistant Doug Houda will be on the bench with Julien and Bob Essesna is up top.
6:33 p.m.: Almost ready for faceoff in Buffalo, but we have some scary news to report from Buffalo. Former Sabre and current Bruins assistant coach Craig Ramsay has been taken to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. Thoughts and prayers with him.
4:15 p.m.: The Sabres apparently aren't getting much respect at home and around the league despite being the third-seeded favorites in this series. Could they use this as motivation and play the Rodney Dangerfield card?
As Pierre Lebrun pointed out on ESPN.com, there aren't many media pundits (including yours truly) picking Buffalo.
"That's kind of what we want, to come in and surprise teams," Sabres center Derek Roy told ESPN.com on Tuesday night.
2:20 p.m.: Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has the green light to play and will be in the lineup for the Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series with the Sabres.
The Bruins, though, did get some bad news as Mark Stuart confirmed to Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe that he will not be available for the first round and maybe longer as he recovers from surgery on his finger due to cellulitis.
On the Sabres' side, the Buffalo News is reporting that forward Jochen Hecht, who scored 21 goals this season, will have a second surgery on his left pinkie finger and is out indefinitely.
Here's the expected lineup for both teams tonight:
Milan Lucic–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Marco Sturm–David Krejci–Miroslav Satan
Blake Wheeler–Vladimir Sobotka–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara–Johnny Boychuk
Matt Hunwick–Dennis Wideman
Andrew Ference–Adam McQuaid
Tyler Ennis–Tim Connolly–Jason Pominville
Tim Kennedy–Derek Roy–Thomas Vanek
Adam Mair–Paul Gaustad–Mike Grier
Raffi Torres–Matt Ellis–Patrick Kaleta
Tyler Myers–Henrik Tallinder
Craig Rivet–Steve Montador
Toni Lydman–Chris Butler
8:28 a.m.: The Bruins and Sabres are ready to renew their rivalry in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals tonight at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. This is the first of the best of seven series with Game 2 at Buffalo Saturday at 1 p.m. and then Games 3 and 4 back in Beantown at TD Garden next Monday and Wednesday. The Bruins took the season series 4-2-0 but two of those wins weren't against Vezina Trophy candidate and silver-medalist Ryan Miller. Barring injury or illness Miller will between the pipes for every game in this series and the league's lowest scoring team, the Bruins will need to figure out quickly how to beat the goalie that went 2-0-2 against them this season and became an American hero at the Olympics with clutch goaltending. But the good thing is that it will be just as hard for Buffalo to score on the Bruins as rookie Tuukka Rask led the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage and went 4-1-0 against the Sabres this season.
This promises to be a game and series of inches with two of the NHL's best between the pipes and the Bruins will need to work as hard as they did to get into the playoffs to stay in them. This is the best time of year for any hockey player or fan and the best tournament in sports has begun. The battle for the Stanley Cup is on!