BUFFALO, N.Y. - The wound was still glistening, the stitches barely an hour old. Mike Grier wasn't sure how many it took to sew up the gash behind his left ear, one he earned by diving in front of a Dennis Wideman shot in the third period.
All Grier knew was that he never hesitated. There's not a lot of time to weigh the pros and cons of diving in front of a flying puck, but you get the sense Grier would do it no matter how much time he had to think about it.
"You're just trying to keep the puck from going to the front of the net and doing everything you can to keep the puck away from (Ryan Miller)," Grier said. "We have to do the little things, keep battling and battling."
Craig Rivet jumped up from the bench when Grier blocked the shot, immediately concerned by the blow to the head. Miller thought of Ian Laperriere and the scary moment he had with the Flyers, taking a shot off his face against the Devils.
But the thing that got Lindy Ruff is that Grier skated off the ice and Ruff thinks he would have kept on playing, stitches or not.
This much Ruff knows for sure: It didn't take long before Grier returned to the bench, all stitched up, and delivered a few simple words.
"I'm ready to go," Grier told Ruff.
The whole team was.
This first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs has shown that there are plenty of ways to respond to possible elimination. The Ottawa Senators scratched and clawed their way to a triple-overtime victory over the Penguins Penguins when backed against the wall. The New Jersey Devils got down a couple of goals to the Philadelphia Flyers and rolled over.
The Sabres? Their response was complete domination. If all you watched was Buffalo's 4-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday, it would be hard to believe the Bruins left Buffalo with a 3-2 series lead.
Is it possible that the team with a series lead has its back against the wall? Because that's what it feels like with the Bruins.
"Tonight was obviously our best game," said Miller, who made 34 saves. "Now that they've seen our best game, they have to react to our best game."
And the Sabres' best game included more than Grier's guts. Rookies Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis, whose diving empty-net goal clinched the win, provided energy.
Paul Gaustad's clean faceoff win set up Grier's huge goal, one that opened a 3-0 lead in the second period.
"He set it on a platter for me," Grier said.
Patrick Kaleta dove face-first in front of a Zdeno Chara shot while the Sabres were nursing a one-goal lead.
"We knew what we had to do," Kaleta said. "You can go from player to player and think of something they did that you would consider leadership."
From the first seconds of the game when Miller was forced to make an early save on David Krejci to the final seconds when the Sabres surrounded an angry Zdeno Chara, who was throwing punches, Buffalo responded.
It was the full game effort the Sabres had lacked. Now they just hope it didn't come too late.
PHT: A comeback win in Game 3 gave Ottawa hope, and the Senators seek a repeat result tonight to level the series.
PHT: The Canucks parted company with head coach Alain Vigneault and two assistants, according to a report.
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