BOSTON — Somehow it seems only fitting in a season that the Bruins have to work extra hard for everything they’ve gotten, that they would have to labor through an extra minute of overtime even after scoring the game-winner.
That strange scenario played out when Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot up under the crossbar at 2:11 of overtime. But the puck hit the support in the back of net and immediately ricocheted out, and no goal was signaled on the ice.
So even as the Bruins thought they had a victory in hand over the Buffalo Sabres at the Garden on Tuesday night, they had to sweat out an extra 51 seconds until the play could be reviewed at the next stoppage at 3:02.
“I don’t know if I could say I was confident,” said Seidenberg of whether he was certain it was a goal. “I was hoping for it to be a goal. I heard a dull noise which it what it usually sounds like when it hits the cushion on the back [of the net], so I kind of, not knew, but thought it was in.”
Other Bruins were even more certain, especially as the replay was shown on the scoreboard above the ice while the play was being reviewed.
“I thought it was in, and as soon as they put it on the jumbotron, game over,” said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who said he was not worried as play went on. “Not really, because even if it wasn’t a goal we still had a power play for the rest of the overtime, so hopefully we would have scored anyway.”
The Bruins had the man-advantage after Luke Adam clipped Marc Savard with a high-stick at 1:46 of the extra session, drawing a double minor to give Boston a 4-on-3 advantage for the rest of overtime. That wasn’t the only gift the Sabres gave to the Bruins, as Nathan Horton tied the game at 13:39 of the third after a brutal turnover by Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber.
“That’s what [Boychuk] was saying, that it was an early Christmas present,” said Horton.
Taking the puck out of the corner, Weber tried to pass up through the middle of the ice, but instead put it right on Horton’s tape in the slot, and Horton quickly converted the perfect feed with a wrister past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
“I was trying to be sneaky, but I was hoping [Weber would try to go up the middle],” said Horton. “But when he did it, I was kind of surprised, but I was kind of waiting for it too just in case. And it was nice, it was right on my tape for me.”
That was a dramatic change of luck from most of the night, as the Bruins repeatedly squandered chances to build on an early 1-0 lead, failing to get shots on net or shots off at all on a number of odd-man rushes. They finished with as many shot attempts either blocked out front (18) or missing the (18) as they actually put on goal (36), and Horton admitted they might have tried to be too fine facing a goalie in Miller who had posted back-to-back shutouts coming into the game.
“It’s like shooting on Timmy [Thomas],” said Horton. “They’re both good goalies so you’re not going to score on them if you don’t have traffic. You’ve got to put it in the right spot we’re they’re not going to be so you have to pick corners and I think I was just trying to pick corner a little too much and that’s why you end up going high.”
But the final shot was right on target as Seidenberg slipped it in with a little help from Recchi. And the celebration was on, albeit after a short delay.