The Bruins and Sabres are no strangers when it comes to postseason play.
The two teams have met seven times in the race for the Stanley Cup. Boston came out on top in each of the first five matchups, but Buffalo has won the last two, including the most recent meeting in the 1999 Eastern Conference semifinals.
1999 Eastern Conference Semifinals
Although the Bruins and Sabres finished the regular season with 91 points, Buffalo had a clear advantage in the postseason, thanks to goaltender Dominik Hasek, who outplayed Boston counterpart Byron Dafoe.
The Sabres negated the Bruins' home ice advantage with a 3-1 victory in Game 2, and never relinquished it, defeating Boston in six games. Buffalo advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals that year, only to lose to the Dallas Stars on a highly controversial triple-overtime goal by Brett Hull.
1993 Adams Division Semifinals
Rewind to 1993, and you'll remember a Bruins team that went 51-26-7 during the regular season, finishing second in what was then known as the Prince of Wales Conference. The B's were heavily favored heading into their Adams Division semifinal tilt against the Sabres after finishing 23 points ahead of them in the regular-season standings. History was on Boston’s side as well — the Bruins were 5-0 in playoff series against Buffalo, and the Sabres hadn't won a seven-game matchup in 13 years.
But things didn't go as planned for the Ray Bourque, Adam Oates, and Cam Neely-led Bruins. Buffalo took the series opener on Boston's home ice on an overtime goal by Yuri Khmylev. And things only got worse in Game 2, as Sabres goalkeeper Grant Fuhr notched 34 saves in a 4-0 shutout that put the Bruins in a 2-0 hole.
After another overtime loss in Game 3, the Bruins had their backs to the wall and were on the verge of suffering a stunning sweep. Boston jumped out to a 5-2 lead in Game 4, only to see the Sabres climb back and force overtime. There, Buffalo's left winger Brad May skated past Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque into a one-on-one with netminder Andy Moog. May cashed in the opportunity, leaving the B's shocked and heartbroken, while turning a page on a disappointing chapter in Sabres history.
1992 Adams Division Semifinals
Only two of the Bruins-Sabres postseason battles went the distance, and the 1992 Adams Division semifinal was the most recent. The Bruins came out on top, despite being outscored 22-19.
Home ice advantage proved meaningless throughout the first five games of the series, as the Bruins dropped the opener at the Garden 3-2, before winning the next three games — including Games 3 and 4 in Buffalo — to jump out to a 3-1 lead. After the teams returned to Boston with the Bruins hoping to eliminate the Sabres in five, Buffalo netminder Daren Puppa kept the B’s at bay in a 2-0 loss.
The Sabres retained that momentum in Game 6, finally winning a game on their home ice by plowing through the Boston defense in a 9-3 blowout. But the Bruins were able to put that embarrassment out of their minds quickly, and bounce back with a 3-2 win at the Garden to persevere in seven.
1989 Adams Division Semifinals
Led by Cam Neely and center Craig Janney, the Bruins brushed aside the frustration of a 6-0 defeat in the opener to send the Sabres home without another win. Boston doubled up Buffalo 16-8 on the scoreboard over the next four games, and capped off the series with a 4-1 victory at the Garden in Game 5.
1988 Adams Division Semifinals
The 1988 meeting between the Bruins and Sabres is known as much for fisticuffs and unruly fans as for the excellent play of defenseman Gord Kluzak and Andy Moog. Tempers flared throughout the series, beginning with the very first game, when the teams totaled a ridiculous 150 minutes in the penalty box. The Bruins defended their home ice by winning the first two games in the series, including a 7-3 rout in the aforementioned Game 1.
But the Sabres would not go down easily, as center John Tucker put the team on his shoulders and scored four times in Game 3, as well as the overtime winner in Game 4.
The Bruins regained their advantage on a pair of goals by right winger Rick Middleton in Game 5, and secured the series on three first-period goals in a 4-2 win in the decisive Game 6.
Boston went on to play the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, but could not stop Wayne Gretzky. "The Great One" amassed a remarkable 13 points in the series, leading the Oilers to a commanding sweep.
1983 Adams Division Finals
In the other playoff series between the teams to go the distance, Rick Middleton was the hero for the Bruins, as he catalyzed a relentless attack with four goals and 14 assists.
Although Boston fell behind with a 7-4 loss in the opening game — after allowing two goals apiece to Buffalo forwards Lindy Ruff and Tony McKegney — the Bruins countered with a pair from center Mike Krushelnyski in a Game 2 win.
Buffalo took Game 3 to earn a 2-1 edge in the series, but the Middleton-led onslaught rolled in Games 4 and 5, as the Bruins outscored the Sabres 15-2. Goalie Pete Peeters teamed up with Middleton and center Barry Pederson — who each contributed two goals and two assists — to put a 9-0 shutout in the books.
Although the Sabres refused to go down in Game 6 in Buffalo, and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the finale, the Bruins regained the momentum on goals by Pederson and defenseman Brad Park, who later slapped home the clincher in overtime.
1982 Adams Division Semifinals
The Bruins and Sabres finished the 1981-82 season neck-and-neck in the Adams Division standings, with Boston finishing just three points ahead of Buffalo. But the Bruins were decidedly better in the best-of-five playoff series, winning in four games behind the offense of Middleton and Pederson. The Sabres put the puck behind Bruins netminder Mike Moffat 11 times during the four games, but simply could not keep up with a much deeper and stronger Boston attack.
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