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Sabres likely without Vanek for Game 3 vs. Bruins

by Brian Hunter
(Best-of-seven series tied, 1-1)
Big story:
Losing Game 2 on Saturday may turn out to be the least of Buffalo's worries -- after all, a team can afford three losses before facing elimination. But the injury suffered by the Sabres' leading goal-scorer, Thomas Vanek, could have a major affect on the rest of the series if it causes him to miss significant time. It's reportedly a high ankle sprain that is expected to sideline Vanek for Game 3 and perhaps longer.

"Thomas is hard to replace, but one player doesn't make a team, and you can say that about any one guy in our lineup," defenseman Steve Montador said. "We want to continue to play hard, play our system and we'll get the chances that we need if we continue to work."

Team scope:

Sabres: It's back to death and taxes as the only sure things in life after Buffalo coughed up a game it led after two periods for the first time all season on Saturday. The Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period and responded to the Bruins tying the score by going ahead 3-2 on a Jason Pominville goal. They had been 31-0-0 up to that point when leading after 40 minutes. But this one didn't hold up, and they were handed a 5-3 defeat that evens up the best-of-seven series heading back to Boston.

"It's tough. But no one said you're going to walk through the playoffs," goalie Ryan Miller said. "The good part is they don't tell you what order you have to win. You just have to win four."
Michael Ryder and Zdeno Chara were the offensive heroes of the third period in Game 2, each player scoring his second goal of the afternoon. Ryder, a player Boston needs to get going in the absence of Marc Savard, tied the score at the 5:23 mark and Chara put the Bruins ahead to stay exactly two minutes later. Mark Recchi, the third-oldest player in NHL history to score in the postseason, added his second in as many games into an empty net to add the exclamation point and help the team achieve its goal of gaining at least a split at HSBC Arena.

"It's definitely good to get two goals in the third period and bounce back from a deficit," said Tuukka Rask, who stopped 26 shots. "I think everybody realized now that it's playoffs and we can't let down. Today we did a great job of that."
Who's hot: Vanek's absence would be particularly tough on the Sabres because he finished the regular season on a tear, with five goals in his final two games, then added a tally in Game 1. He's their only player with multiple points (1-1-2) in the series. Miller has a .928 save percentage over the first two games.

Chara ended the regular season with assists in four straight games, and the Bruins captain added another in Game 1 before recording the first multi-goal game of his playoff career on Saturday. Ryder also had a two-goal game in the regular-season finale, a shootout win against the Capitals.
Injury report: Buffalo forward Drew Stafford, who was recovering from concussion-like symptoms, could return to the lineup in place of Vanek if he is cleared by doctors.
Stat pack:
The Sabres have struck first in each of the first two games of this series and are now 32-7-4 this season when getting the first goal. … The Bruins hadn't beaten the Sabres in a postseason game in eight tries, dating back to a 5-4 overtime win in the first round of the 1992 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Puck drop:
These teams met at TD Garden twice during the final two weeks of the regular season. Buffalo won 3-2 on March 29 before Boston came back to record a 3-1 win on April 8 that was critical in helping the Bruins wrap up one of the final Eastern Conference playoff berths. They had one of the poorer home records in the NHL this season, going just 18-17-6, while the Sabres were 20-17-4 on the road.

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