Miroslav Satan scored in the second overtime period as the Boston Bruins earned a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night to take command of the Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
The goal, which came at 7:41 of the first double overtime of the 2010 NHL playoffs, came as a result of a Michael Ryder rush late on a Boston power play. Buffalo had been penalized for having too many men on the ice.
Tim Kennedy and Steve Montador had the Sabres up by two goals by early in the second period and the visitors appeared to be well on their way with goaltender Ryan Miller displaying his best form in the first two periods.
But the Bruins roared back in the third at TD Garden in Boston with goals from David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.
Netminder Tuukka Rask made a diving save late in the period to prevent a third Buffalo goal. Rask finished with 35 saves and drew the second assist on Satan's winning goal.
Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-1.
"We've just got to be satisfied but we've got to shake it off soon, too, because the next game's coming fast and we've got to be ready for that," said Rask. "Momentum changes a lot in the playoffs and we've just got to be ready when the puck drops next game."
The teams will return to Buffalo for Game 5 on Friday on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
"We'll play the same way we did tonight," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We had all types of opportunities. It was a hard game by both teams."
Ruff said as a coach he ultimately took responsibility for the penalty for six skaters on the ice, but the mood changed in his press conference when he was asked about Buffalo's failure to hold on to a two-goal lead.
"We didn't blow it," he said angrily. "Nobody blew it."
Buffalo will need to find a way to sustain their strong starts in the series. Rask has now allowed just one goal in the third period or later over his last 12 games.
When asked what he would do to regain some strength after the gruelling win, Rask joked, "maybe a protein shake and a couple of beers."
Buffalo sniper Thomas Vanek was not ready to go after getting hurt early in Game 2, while teammate Matt Ellis, the recipient of a hard check from Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk in the last game, was replaced by Cody McCormick.
The Sabres are down in the series due largely to the underperformance of several top forwards. Jason Pominville has one goal, while Derek Roy and Tim Connolly have not scored.
Buffalo has gone 0-for-14 on the power play in the series, including an opportunity in the first overtime.
Miller did all he could to give his team a chance to tie the series, with several incredible saves among his 36 stops.
The Sabres goalie in the first overtime bailed out his team three separate times. He stopped Blake Wheeler on a short-handed breakaway, made a pad save to snuff out a Bergeron bid, and stretched low with his glove to deny Satan.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Sabres went up 1-0 in the first seven minutes of the game.
Tyler Ennis and Cody McCormick did effective digging behind the net to help work the puck out to Kennedy alone in the slot for the goal at 2:12.
Kennedy got early redemption after being bumped off the puck on Boston's winning goal in Game 3, while McCormick was playing his first game as a Sabre after spending the season in the American Hockey League.
The Sabres were outbattling the home team but took two penalties late in the period to squelch their own momentum. Boston couldn't capitalize, although defenceman Matt Hunwick tested Miller with three minutes left in the period on an even-strength rush down the right side.
The Bruins overwhelmed Buffalo in the first two minutes of the second, but Vladimir Sobotka was unable to lift the puck over Miller's pad on a rebound near the crease.
The Sabres responded with their own chance just over a minute later with a Raffi Torres blast and a followup attempt that was just wide.
Not long after Shawn Thornton and Steve Begin buzzed around Miller, Montador's shot from the point went off Boston defenceman Dennis Wideman's stick and past Rask for a two-goal lead at 6:59.
The next several minutes were a critical juncture, according to Ruff.
"I thought ultimately where we let down a little bit were the three of four odd-man rushes we had in the second period when the game was 2-0 and we didn't shoot the puck," he said. "I think we could have put the game away there."
The goal unsettled the Bruins for a few minutes but they finished the period strongly — albeit without a goal to show.
Mark Recchi beat Miller but hit the crossbar, and then was robbed when the Sabres goalie made a pad save later on the same shift.
McCormick drew a goaltender interference call, and the Boston power play connected. Bergeron won a faceoff and drove to the net to screen Miller, setting up Krejci's rebound goal from Matt Hunwick's original shot.
Boston coach Claude Julien admitted he spoke to Krejci, Ryder and Satan during the second intermission.
"I thought that line was just OK for the longest time and … I had a couple of words for them after the second period that line, and told them we were going to need a little bit more out of them if we were going to have a chance to win," said Julien.
The Bruins kept the pressure on and Bergeron got them on even terms at 6:40 with a sharp angle shot from the left wing, prompting Sabres coach Lindy Ruff to call a timeout.
The game headed to overtime, but only after the teams traded great chances later in the third. Rask dove laterally for a blocker save on Mike Grier, with Bruins forward Blake Wheeler hitting the right post.
The first overtime featured a frenetic pace in the first eight minutes.
Toni Lydman wired a shot that rang off the right post on an early Buffalo power play but seconds later Wheeler took off on his breakaway but could not beat Miller on a low shot.
The Sabres goalie appeared briefly shaken on a high shot from Milan Lucic early in the second extra session and soldiered on, but his teammates were unable to reward him.
Ryder fought through a neutral zone check on the winner, drawing Buffalo's attention to the right wing before slipping the puck in the slot. Satan outwaited Miller, switching to his backhand to send the puck in the net.