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The defenseman with the improbable name was the unlikely...

By FREDERICK WATERMAN, UPI Sports Writer

BOSTON -- The defenseman with the improbable name was the unlikely hero Thursday night in the Boston Bruins' 4-1 playoff victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

Bruce Shoebottom's first NHL goal was the game-winner as the Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the fight-filled Adams Division semifinal.

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The rugged defenseman was playing just his fifth NHL game after spending most of the year in the minors, where he totaled 336 penalty minutes in 69 games.

Shoebottom took Cam Neely's pass across the slot and fired the puck inside the left post, past goalie Tom Barrasso.

'Something like that happens and it's great,' Shoebottom said. 'And it's surprising. I just expected to help out with the odd shift here and there.'

Teammate Jay Miller, noting Shoebottom's reputation as a 'tough guy,' said, 'He's paid his dues, he worked his way up and when you get up here, you have to play good hockey. Believe me, he's a hockey player.'

The best-of-seven series is to shift to Buffalo for scheduled games Saturday and Sunday.

Ken Linseman, Glen Wesley and former Olympian Craig Janney scored during Boston's man-advantage opportunities. The Bruins converted 3 of 9 power plays.

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'It seems like we got a lot of good quality shots on the power play, and that's the key,' Janney said.

Boston goalie Reggie Lemelin stopped 25 shots, including Buffalo's first 20.

Game 2 began as Game 1 ended -- with fights. In the first period, 74 penalty minutes were called. The first fight began eight seconds into the game, and play was stopped twice more within the next 1:04 for fisticuffs. By 19:48, nine players were packed into the penalty boxes, five Bruins and four Sabres. Wednesday, 98 penalty minutes were assessed in the third period.

In Game 2, a total of 112 penalty minutes was called. Game 1 had resulted in 146 penalty minutes.

'We sure didn't back down from them,' Buffalo defenseman Bob Halkidis said.

Boston, ousted by Montreal in the first round each of the last four years, has not trailed in either game against Buffalo. In Game 2, the Bruins led 1-0 after one period and 2-0 after two.

Boston's first goal came on Linseman's 45-footslap shot from the right point. Barrasso was apparently screened, reacting too slowly to stop the rising shot at 12:19.

Shoebottom, a defenseman who spent most of the season in the minors, took Cam Neely's pass across the slot and slipped it behind Barrasso inside the left post at 2:13 of the second.

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Foligno cut the deficit to 2-1 at 4:16 of the third when he scored on a breakaway, sliding the puck under Lemelin.

Wesley's second goal of the series provided insurance for Boston as he fired a slap shot from the left point that hit Barrasso's right knee pad and bounced over the goalie and into the net at 5:35. Janney provided a three-goal cushion, taking Bob Joyce's pass from behind the net and, from the slot, flicking the puck past Barrasso at 9:38.

A brief altercation broke out between the Sabres and fans sitting behind the Buffalo bench. With 2:43 remaining, Foligno was restrained from climbing an exit ramp into the stands.

'I came back to the bench and someone threw some liquor at me,' Foligno said. 'It stung like a son of a gun and I didn't take too kindly to it. You never know what's in those drinks. For all I know, it could have been embalming fluid, and half the people behind our bench were drinking it anyway.'

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