Saturday, February 09, 2008
The Celtics have struggled recently without Kevin Garnett. He was once again out against his former team, and it was once again a more competitive game than it would have been had he played.
The Bruins have also struggled as of late, losing their last two games and falling behind 2-0 going into the 3rd period last night. Had the 2-0 score stood up, Buffalo would have tied the Bruins for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.
But both Boston teams came out on top. Both thanks to unlikely, or at least unexpected heroes. And both heroes seemed to simply be in the right place at the right time.
Leon Powe scored the game winning basket as time expired. With the score knotted at 86-86, Minnesota had the ball with under 30 seconds on the clock. Former Boston College star Craig Smith rebounded a missed 3 pointer for the Timberwolves. Ray Allen broke up Smith's ensuing pass and the Celtics turned upcourt. Eventually, Powe dropped the ball in as the buzzer sounded. The officials reviewed it, and confirmed the basket, giving Boston an 88-86 win.
The Bruins scored their game winning goal in an overtime shootout with the Buffalo Sabres. After falling behind 2-0 through 2 periods, the Bruins took over the game and dominated the 3rd, outshooting Buffalo 17 to 1. The Sabres had their first and only shot of the period with 3 minutes left. Zdeno Chara scored 1 minute into the 3rd. Marco Sturm tied it up 15 minutes later on a breakaway goal. After a scoreless overtime, the game went to penalty shots.
Phil Kessel netted the game winner. In attempt to trick goalie Ryan Miller, Kessel dribbled the puck, but made one move too many. The puck came off his stick, and drifted between Miller's legs and into the net. It was either one of the best moves in NHL history, or pure luck. Kessel later admitted "You can't get any luckier."
On the other end of the ice, backup goalie Alex Auld stopped all three of Buffalo's shootout shots, securing a 3-2 win for the Bruins.
The Celtics' win kept them 3 games ahead of the Pistons for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The C's also reduced their magic number to clinch the Atlantic Division to 22. If they win 22 of their remaining 35 games, they win the division, even if Toronto wins every single game they have left.
The Bruins gave themselves a small cushion in the playoff race. They now lead 9th place Buffalo by 3 points, and actually moved into 7th place in the East.
The Celtics host San Antonio on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins host the Florida Panthers tonight.
AP Photo/Jim Mone (Powe scoring game winner)
AP Photo/David Duprey (Kessel's shootout winner)