- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In some sort of strange way, the mistakes the Boston Bruins made in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup against the Buffalo Sabres proved to be beneficial. When a Bruins player did make a mistake, the rest of the team stepped up in a big way, and Boston was rewarded with a 5-3 victory on Saturday at HSBC Arena. The series is now tied at 1-1 with Game 3 at the TD Garden on Monday at 7 p.m.
The Bruins played with a sense of urgency, knowing if they returned to Boston down two games, their chances of getting back into this series would be slim, especially with Ryan Miller in the net for Buffalo.
"It's a huge boost," said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "They haven't lost after leading by two periods and this is a big win. We showed some character and showed ways to get goals through [Miller]. You can't say much more than that."
Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a tough game. He was knocked to the ice four times on his first shift, which set the tone for him. When the Sabres' Tyler Myers scored the first goal at 2:55 of the first period, Lucic wasn't where he should have been.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who made 26 saves in the win, allowed a tough second goal when the Sabres' Matt Ellis beat him with a backhander at 12:00 of the first period to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead.
"A backhander is always tough," said Rask. "I might have been fading a little bit left and opened up. I thought it was a good shot, but I definitely have to have that."
The stalemate didn't last very long as the Sabres capitalized on a turnover by Lucic behind Boston's net and Buffalo's Jason Pominville finished it with a goal at 16:41.
"The first one I got caught out of position and the second one I obviously didn't make a strong play," said Lucic. "It's good we didn't get frustrated and guys picked me up after the second one. It was a classic case today of sticking with it and that's why we won."
Bruins veteran Mark Recchi is not afraid to call guys out, but he's also one to pick teammates up when needed. Lucic needed it.
"That happens. He just kind of whiffed it," said Recchi. "You feel bad for him, really. It was a tough play and Pominville made a heck of a shot. We want to win games and we've been sticking together. We don't get down on each other and we try to build people up. It's been a battle all year with a lot of adversity and there's no sense getting down on each other."
Lucic wasn't the only one the Bruins needed to bail out on Saturday.
When Chara netted his second goal at 7:23 of the third period and Boston finally gained its first lead of the series, that momentum swing was almost thwarted when the Bruins' Shawn Thornton was called for high sticking at 8:27 and Boston's penalty kill had to shut down Buffalo's power play.
"We understood that our penalty kill had to bail us out again," said Julien. "It's done that all year for us. The guys really stepped up and did a great job and that includes our goaltender."
It was clear Thornton was disappointed with the penalty, but again, Boston did what it had to do in order to secure the victory.
"It was a great penalty kill," said Recchi. "Our penalty kill has been terrific all year. They were fantastic. They went out and did what they've been doing all year for us and came up with a huge kill and Tuukka made the saves when he had to. Thorny has done a lot of good things for this hockey club, so guys really stick up for one another. It was a high stick penalty and I don't think he meant to do it, so you want to kill for guys like that."
With Thornton out of the box, the Bruins didn't sit back. Boston continued with its game plan and kept the pressure on, which was a good sign for the team.
"We just wanted to get pucks deep and make sure they would have to go the whole length of the ice to score a goal," said Boychuk. "It was the simple plays and not the fancy ones and we were able to come out with a win."
It turned out to be a big win for Boston. A character win built on mistakes.
"We came here and did what we had to do," said Recchi. "Now, we have to go home and do the things we need to do."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.