By Ros Krasny
BOSTON (Reuters) - Center Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winning goal with seven minutes remaining to help the Boston Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in their Eastern Conference playoff series on Monday.
Bergeron, a member of Canada's Olympic gold-medal winning team, snapped the puck past Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller after 42-year-old veteran Mark Recchi, playing his 21st NHL season, had scrambled for a loose puck in the corner, to break the 1-1 tie late in the third period.
"He's a great player, and I'm happy to get a chance to play with him. I learn something every time I step on the ice with him," Bergeron said of Recchi's influence.
An enthusiastic crowd of 17,565 helped the home team move to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game Four scheduled for Boston on Wednesday.
Buffalo's Mike Grier had opened the scoring 6:57 into the first period before Boston defenseman Dennis Wideman tied the game about eight minutes later with his first playoff goal.
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 32 saves.
"He came up big when he had to. He made some great saves to keep us out of overtime," Boston coach Claude Julien said.
The Sabres came into the series as the number three seed in the Eastern Conference, but are facing a Boston team energized by their desperate race to make the post-season.
"If you can grab some momentum at the right time of year, a lot of things can happen," said Julien.
"When things started to turn around we got more confident, and when we got confident we played better."
The game marked Boston's second successive come-from-behind win against Buffalo.
"It's a seven-game series. We know that if we win the next one we're in good shape going back to our ice," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.
"Playoffs go against a lot of different patterns."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)