If the Buffalo Sabres can take a lead into the third period of every game this postseason, they could cruise to a Stanley Cup victory.
The Sabres captured a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins Thursday night, improving to 31-0-0 in games this season where they lead after two periods.
Buffalo was the only team to go undefeated during the regular season and is 82-2-11 since the start of the 2007-08 season when leading after 40 minutes.
Ryan Miller surivived a second period onslaught, stopping 23 of 24 shots. His team rewarded the effort in the third by holding the Bruins to just six attempts. Miller finished with 38 saves.
"I think they sensed a little blood in the second and got aggressive," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Buffalo defenseman Craig Rivet struck from the right faceoff circle with a little less than six minutes left in the second period. That gave the Sabres the cushion they needed. From there on, they played shut-down hockey.
"Those are the answers you need in a period where things aren't going well," Ruff said of Rivet's tally.
In addition to playing tight defense, Buffalo also had to get defensive. Late in the first period, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara delivered a pair of hard checks to Patrick Kaleta behind the Boston net. That set off a scrum which led to double minors for Chara and Milan Lucic . Buffalo' Tony Lydman , Steve Montador and Raffi Torres picked up roughing minors. Kaleta received a 10-minute misconduct.
"We said it was going to be tight," Ruff said. "We expected a low-scoring game. We expected intensity. Someone said they felt friction before the series started, and we got it early."