BOSTON – Bruins forward Miroslav Satan admitted he dreamed about nights like Monday as he waited for his opportunity to rejoin the NHL.
Satan, just four months removed from free-agency purgatory, scored the series-winning goal in Monday night's 4-3 victory by the Boston Bruins that closed out the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against Buffalo in six games.
I think there were two reasons I wanted to sign for half the year," said Satan, who signed with Boston on Jan. 2. "It was Olympics and then playoffs."
Satan played for Slovakia in the Olympics, part of a team that captivated the hockey world in an improbable and exciting run to a fourth-place finish in Vancouver. Now he is in Boston in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, hoping to follow the path he navigated with Pittsburgh last spring all the way to a June celebration with the Stanley Cup.
"Definitely, this is fun after last year what I went through in going all the way," Satan said. "It's fun to be in the playoffs again. This team maybe missed out on a big opportunity last year, so we'll see what happens this year. I just want to enjoy it while we are here."
Boston is into the second round because of Satan. The Bruins held on for the 4-3 victory – with Satan's tap-in goal with 5:11 left proving to be the difference – to advance to the second round for the second year in a row and send home the favored Sabres, who had taken the Northeast Division crown from Boston in the regular season.
"It would be real difficult to go to Buffalo after this game (for a Game 7), so we all knew what the situation was," said Satan, who called Buffalo home during the prime years of his career. "We all knew that they were going to play for their lives and we wanted to match their intensity."
Boston did just that in Game 6, taking leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before Satan -- brought in for his goal-scoring – gave Boston a 4-2 lead. Satan's goal proved to be the winner when Thomas Vanek scored Buffalo's third goal of the night with just 1:13 left in the game.
Satan's goal was a perfect illustration of why Boston GM Peter Chiarelli rolled the dice on the gifted goal scorer, who turned 35 back in October.
Reading a developing play perfectly, Satan cruised to the far post to give defenseman Dennis Wideman a host of options as he held the puck just inside the blue line.
"Well, Looch (Milan Lucic) was in front and Miro was coming," Wideman explained. "I saw Miro coming down the back and the angle I had and I knew that if Looch missed it, it was going to be right on Miro's tape. I kind of threw it toward both of them and hoped one of them would get it."
Actually both players got the puck with Lucic applying the lightest of tips to the pass as it skittered onto Satan's stick for an easy tap-in that kicked off a spastic goal celebration by a player who has 363 regular-season goals to his credit.
"It was pretty," Lucic laughed when asked about the celebration. "It was a nice one. Obviously, he was happy."
The Bruins are happy they have a celebrating Slovak – aside from captain Zdeno Chara – to poke fun at because Satan has proven to be worth his contract already this postseason. After scoring just 9 goals in 38 regular-season games, Satan has two in the playoffs – both game-winners in the past five days. He had the game-winning goal in double overtime in Game 4 here last Thursday night, a win that gave Boston control of the series.
"He's scored two big goals for us, two big game-winners in the last two home games," Lucic said. "You can tell he is excited and pumped up."
And why wouldn't Satan be excited? His dreams are playing out just as he envisioned them as he sat in free-agency purgatory a little more than four months ago.