Ruff central in Sabres-Bruins playoff history

Boston and Buffalo are meeting for the eighth time in the playoffs, and Lindy Ruff has been on hand for six of the battles between the clubs.

If the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins are meeting in the playoffs, chances are Lindy Ruff is involved. ((Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)) takes a look at the NHL teams meeting in the first round of the 2010 playoffs that have significant history of post-season series against each other.

The Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres played seven times in the playoffs between 1982 and 1999, with Boston winning the first five times and Buffalo coming out on top the next two meetings.

As a player or coach, Lindy Ruff has been part of almost every playoff meeting between the clubs, missing 1992 and 1993.   Here's a look at some of their more memorable battles:


Boston wins Adams Division final, 4-3

The Bruins had beaten the Sabres in a five-game series the previous season but the Sabres were much stronger than in 1982.

Buffalo pounded Boston 7-4 in the series opener, with forwards Lindy Ruff and Tony McKegney each scoring twice.

Mike Krushelnyski scored twice in the next game to get the Bruins on even terms, with Buffalo winning again in Game 3.

The Bruins won the next two games by a combined score of 15-2 as the line featuring Rick Middleton and Barry Pederson ran rampant. Middleton had a point on every goal in a 6-2 Game 4 victory, and both players had two goals and two assists in a 9-0 laugher in Game 5, with Pete Peeters registering the shutout.

The Sabres fought back on their own turf to prolong the series. Rookie defenceman Phil Housley scored twice and Ruff was credited with the winner in a 5-3 result.

Buffalo looked to be on their way in the deciding game when Ric Seiling scored twice, but Pederson and Brad Park replied for the Bruins against Bob Sauve in the second.

In overtime, Pederson won a clean draw to Park, who got a rebound of his own slapshot and buried it into an empty net.

"We came so close; it was a battle," said a disconsolate Ruff.

Middleton finished with a remarkable four goals and 14 assists in the series.


Boston wins Adams Division semifinal, 4-2

Gord Kluzak and Steve Kasper scored short-handed goals within a minute in a 7-3 series-opening win for the Bruins. The game featured 150 minutes in penalties, with Ruff among those going off for fighting.

Boston won the next game, too, but John Tucker took over for the Sabres. He scored four goals in Game 3, including a penalty-shot tally on Andy Moog.

When Glen Wesley hauled down Mike Foligno in overtime of Game 4, Tucker capitalized with his second of the game to tie the series.

Tempers continued to flare in Buffalo, with Bruins coach Terry O'Reilly and his players facing unruly fans.

Middleton was now near the end of his career and was benched for the first three games of the series. But he responded in Game 5 with two goals and an assist in Boston's win.

The Bruins scored three in the first on Tom Barrasso in the final game of the series, with Ken Linseman clinching the result with his second goal into an empty net in a 4-2 result.

Boston eventually reached the Stanley Cup final but come a cropper against Edmonton as Wayne Gretzky poured in 13 points in four games in his final series as an Oiler.


Buffalo wins Adams Division semifinal, 4-0

"May Day!" Pent-up Sabres fans got their revenge on Boston, and how.

The Bruins came in second only to Pittsburgh in the Wales Conference, 23 points ahead of the Sabres.

Buffalo forward Yuri Khmylev gave a sign of what was to come with an overtime winner in Boston to start the series. Grant Fuhr then stopped all 34 shots and Alex Mogilny and Dale Hawerchuk were among the scorers in a Game 2 shutout win.

Back in Buffalo, the Bruins struggled but Boston's Cam Neely helped force overtime in the third period. But Bob Sweeney burned his old club with the 5-4 overtime winner in Game 3. Sweeney had been waived by the Bruins the previous summer.

It all set up Brad May's overtime winner for a series sweep, with Sabres announcer Rick Jeanneret entering a state of delirium as Buffalo finally shook the Bruins.

The Bruins took the heat from Boston hockey fans, but not Adam Oates. Boston scored 12 times in the series, with Oates finishing with nine assists.


Buffalo wins Eastern Conference semifinal, 4-2

The Bruins and Sabres had equal points heading into the playoffs, but Boston goalie Byron Dafoe was not the equal of Dominik Hasek.

Dmitri Khristich scored twice as Boston got the upper hand on Hasek and the Sabres, but Buffalo fought back in Game 2 — literally. Curtis Brown's goal held up as the winner, while Alexei Zhitnik plowed Boston great Ray Bourque into the boards with a check from behind, infuriating the Bruins.

Boston got mad but not even as Buffalo won 3-2 in the next game, and Hasek went to work with a 24-save shutout in Game 4 — his second in eight playoff games.

Hasek was working on a 116-minute shutout streak when Don Sweeney scored in Game 5 to help spark a four-goal outburst for Boston.

The Dominator was none too pleased, throwing in a sly dig at his defence.

"I don't care if I was screened, or whatever," Hasek said. "Four goals in two periods is too much."

Buffalo scored first in Game 6 and Hasek never allowed the Sabres to trail in a 3-2 win, with fans in Buffalo shouting, "Bring on the Leafs!"

The Sabres went on to beat Toronto and reach the Stanley Cup final in Ruff's second year as Buffalo head coach.

Ruff is still behind the bench as the Sabres head into the 2010 playoffs, while Claude Julien is the sixth Boston coach since the 1999 series between the clubs.