BOSTON -- Dennis Wideman made up for a first-period turnover that resulted in a goal by scoring the go-ahead goal 1:59 into the third period as the Boston Bruins moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night at TD Garden.
"That was a real big win for us," Wideman said. "We struggled a bit early. We weren’t quite up to where we wanted to play, but I think we stuck with it and came through with the win."
Mark Recchi added an insurance goal with 3:25 left in the third, deflecting in a Zdeno Chara shot, and Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for Boston.
The Bruins are now tied with the Canadiens at 87 points, but sit above them in the standings because they have one game in hand. The Flyers trail by one point in eighth place and the Rangers by three points in ninth.
"For sure it was a big game for us. It was big points on the line and so we are happy with the win and we got to get ready for next game," said Chara, who is sporting a full cage to protect his broken nose. "We’ll see what’s going to happen around the League, but we can’t be relying on other teams losing. We got to keep moving forward and try to win as many games as possible ‘til the end, which is two games left."
The anticipated matchup between the League's best goalies never materialized as Rask, who leads in goals-against average and save percentage, faced Buffalo backup Patrick Lalime rather than U.S. Olympic star Ryan Miller.
Despite the loss, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was still pleased with the play of his backup goaltender, who finished the night with 29 saves.
"I thought Patty gave us a good game," Ruff said. "You look at the second period, there wasn’t much for chances. I think the chances were a couple apiece. It was tight. In the third, again, they took advantage of a couple opportunities. We walked right in and decided not to shoot a couple times, which I think hurt us."
The Bruins drew even at one 2:15 into the second period. David Krejci outworked the Sabres defense and fed the puck to Miroslav Satan, who danced to the net and beat Lalime on a backhander.
"They played hard tonight," Sabres forward Derek Roy said. "They needed these points. They came out hard and we didn’t come out as hard as we wanted to. We still got the lead, but we ran into penalty trouble, and our power play we didn’t execute the way we wanted to."
Roy scored first for the Sabres, 11 minutes into the first period. Roy picked up the puck following a neutral-zone turnover by Wideman and beat Rask glove side.
Wideman, whose plus-minus is the second worst on the team at minus-15, had been the target of fan booing for the first two periods
"They can do whatever they want. They pay to come to the game," Wideman said. "Obviously at the start of the year and most of the year, things didn’t go as well as I would like or as well as it has in the past. I just have to prove to them that I can still play and I still want to win. … Yeah, obviously it feels a lot better to get cheered than booed."
Wideman's teammates have his back.
"I don’t know what happened on that first goal. It seemed like it was kind of a funky bounce or whatever, but he has played very well for us and you don’t like to see any player go through that," veteran forward Mark Recchi said.
"He is a good teammate and a good guy and he is trying hard. Sometimes they go and sometimes they don’t. That was a huge, huge goal for us tonight and, like I said, he just goes out there and plays. I don’t think he is letting it bother him, which is good. I think he knows the players have his back in the dressing room, which is the most important thing, and he is showing it by going out there and playing well."
The Bruins' power play, which went 0-for-6 and looked generally disorganized, was also subjected to the fans' displeasure. Their play with the extra man has taken a huge hit without injured All-Star Marc Savard, as they haven't had a power-play goal in six games.
"We’re trying, I think, every day," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Again, yesterday, we spent 20 minutes before practice working on it and we spent some time afterwards. You know, even on the nights where it seems to work and we’re getting chances, when you look back at the game tapes, a lot of times it’s killing us because we’re lacking that finish as well. … So hopefully we can find that part of our game, because with the way we struggle to score goals, our power play could be huge for us."
Boston has two regular-season games remaining on its schedule, hosting the Hurricanes on Saturday and traveling to Washington on Sunday to face the Capitals for a second time in week.
But they aren't thinking of the playoffs yet, even though if they were to start tomorrow, they'd be facing the Sabres in the first round.
"No. Not yet," Recchi said. "I mean, I know it’s probably a big win, but at the same time, we don’t want to be relying on other teams. We want to get there by us winning, and we haven’t accomplished anything yet until it happens."
1 - 0 BUF
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 BOS
3 - 1 BOS
Holding the stick