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One solid period

Sabres rally late to beat Bruins, take 2-1 series lead

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Posted: Thursday May 13, 1999 11:25 AM

  Net congestion: The Sabres' Vaclav Varada (center) screens Boston goalie Bryon Dafoe, as Jason Woolley (right) scores a first-period goal. AP

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- One solid period was enough for the Buffalo Sabres and too much for the Boston Bruins.

Dixon Ward scored the winning goal midway through the third and Dominik Hasek blanked Boston for the final 51 minutes as the Sabres skated to a 3-2 playoff win on Wednesday night.

Two lackluster periods dropped Buffalo into a 2-1 hole, but the Sabres dug themselves out with the tough forechecking and deadly shooting they displayed in a 3-1 win in Game 2 in Boston.

Rhett Warrener knocked in his own rebound to tie the game at 6:44 of the third. Ward connected 2:54 later as the Sabres took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

"After two days we were pretty full of ourselves because of the game we played in Game 2, and it showed," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "We didn't start working until the third period."

Vaclav Varada passed from the side of the net to Ward in the slot and he scored from short range. The play was set up by the forechecking of Michael Peca behind the net.

"[Varada] just started bringing it around the net and I screamed to him that I was open and he made a great pass," Ward said. "I whacked at it and it went in."

The Sabres were forced to come from behind for the second time in the playoffs. They overcame a 2-1 deficit in a 3-2 double-overtime win over Ottawa in Game 2 of the first round.

"They've got a lot of character," Bruins coach Pat Burns said. "They kept on coming. They're going to capitalize, and Ward's goal was a perfect picture of that."

Jason Woolley gave Buffalo a 1-0 lead on a power play 97 seconds into the game. But Steve Heinze and Anson Carter scored for Boston in the next 11 minutes, while Joe Thornton assisted on both goals.

Boston's stingy defense held Buffalo without a shot for 21 minutes following the Sabres' first goal. All three Sabres shots in the first period came on their one power play. They nearly matched their team-record low of shots in a playoff period of two.

Buffalo managed just seven shots in the first two periods combined, but woke up and pressured the Bruins with 18 shots in the third.

Boston, meanwhile, went eight minutes without a shot in the third period and finished with just 21 shots at Hasek, the NHL's two-time MVP.

The teams exchanged verbal jabs through the media during their two days off after Sabres defenseman Alexei Zhitnik rammed into Bruins captain Ray Bourque from behind and knocked the Boston captain down in Buffalo's Game 2 victory.

The fans targeted Bourque with banners that read "Stick a fork in Ray Bork" and "Bourque is a Dourque."

"We did what we wanted to do in terms of shutting them down for two periods," Bourque said. "They had a couple of good shifts and caught some momentum and got a couple of goals. A couple of mistakes cost us."

The Sabres had used physical play to tie the series in Boston, but couldn't carry that success into the first two periods of Game 3. It wasn't until the third period that the Sabres got their forechecking going.

"Who cares?" Woolley said. "We'd like to put 60 minutes together, but we're coming away with a win and that's all that matters. If it takes 20 minutes of good hockey to win, then we'll take it, but we'd like to get off to a better start than we did tonight."

Bourque went off 10 seconds into the game for tripping Ward, and Woolley scored his second goal of the playoffs with 34 seconds left on the penalty. Boston goaltender Byron Dafoe gloved Michal Grosek's slap shot from inside the blue line, but couldn't clear it, and Woolley's backhander opened the scoring.

Heinze tapped in a feed from Carter with 13 seconds left on Hasek's obstruction penalty. Heinze's third playoff goal, on Boston's second shot of the game, made it 1-1 at 8:47.

Carter put Boston up 2-1 at 12:48, after Dave Ellett's slap shot struck and crumpled Hasek. With the Buffalo goaltender lying prone in front of the net, Thornton passed to Carter for the easy go-ahead goal.

"It caught him just above the kneecap and it stunned him for a second," Ruff said. "He's OK."

Hasek he would take a day off and would be ready for Friday's Game 4.

"We wanted to cone in here and take one game," Bruins wing Rob DiMaio said. "We can still do that."

Boos rained down on the Sabres when their second power play midway through the second period failed to produce a shot. Buffalo was 1-for-5 on its power play, Boston 1-for-4.

Related information
SI's Michael Farber: Detroit's Bowman stickler for details
CNN/SI's Jim Kelley: Two-ref system under fire
NHL Week at a Glance: We could be heroes
Bruins' McLaren ready for Game 3 rematch
Hasek shuts down Bruins 3-1 to even up series
Bruins-Sabres Game Summary
Dixon Ward and the Sabres took control in Game 3.
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