Sabres hold out this time to cut Bruins series lead

By Steve Keating

BUFFALO, New York (Reuters) - The Buffalo Sabres grabbed the early lead and this time would not let it go, battling to a 4-1 Game Five win over the Boston Bruins on Friday to extend their Eastern conference quarter-final.

Down 3-1 after three straight losses, the Sabres returned home needing a victory to stay in the Stanley Cup chase and responded with their best effort of the post-season to send the best-of-seven series back to Boston for Game Six on Monday.

"Tonight was obviously our best game and now that they've seen our best they're going to have to react," Sabres netminder Ryan Miller told reporters. "I thought we competed hard in all areas tonight and stuck together.

"That's the kind of game you need to win in the playoffs and it definitely makes things interesting now."

In each of their three losses Buffalo has held the lead, including 2-0 advantages in Games Two and Four, only to watch the Bruins claw their way back for the victory.

The Sabres have dominated play throughout the series, trailing for less than 20 minutes over the five games.

"They (Buffalo) didn't feel sorry for themselves and battled back and we plan on doing the same thing.

"That's why it's a best-of-seven."

Tapping into the energy of a raucous home, Adam Mair scored 1:54 into the opening period to give the Sabres a lead they would never surrender.

Jason Pominville, Mike Grier and Tyler Ennis, into an empty net also counted for the Sabres while Johnny Boychuk converted a Boston power play chance late in the third to spoil Ryan Miller's shutout bid.

Miller, a Vezina trophy finalist as the NHL's top netminder and a standout for the U.S. silver medal winning squad at the Vancouver Olympics, made 34 saves and was at his best in the final period when the surging Bruins outshot Buffalo 21-7.

The Sabres netminder was also involved in a game ending scuffle, dropping his gloves and wrestling with a Bruins player as referees attempted to restore order.

(Editing by Patrick Johnston)