BOSTON — Too many men on the ice – a painful reminder of franchise futility for a generation of Bruins and their fans – is finally a reason to celebrate in Boston.

Miroslav Satan scored a power-play goal after Buffalo was called for having too many men on the ice in the second extra period, and the Bruins beat the Sabres 3-2 at 27:41 of overtime on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

“Finally, it’s over,” said an exhausted Satan, who was stopped by Olympic MVP Ryan Miller in the first overtime on what seemed like such a sure goal that the scoreboard operator even sounded the horn. “We have a 3-1 lead, so it’s a little more breathing space, but the whole series has been good hockey from both sides and great goaltending, and we know that’s not going to change.”

The Bruins rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to force overtime, and it was still 2-2 when in the second OT when Drew Stafford was caught on the ice as a sixth skater and was unable to scramble back to the bench in time to avoid a penalty. There were just nine seconds left in the power play when Satan got a pass from Michael Ryder in front of the net and put it past Miller.

“I just jumped on. There’s not much to say,” Stafford said. “It’s just so disappointing. It’s just disappointing. But we don’t have time to dwell on it. We’ve got to get ready to play.”

Tuukka Rask made 35 saves for Boston, and also assisted on Satan’s goal.

Miller stopped 36 shots for Buffalo, which earned 100 points and a Northeast Division title in the regular season but now needs a victory in Game 5 on Friday night at home to avoid elimination.

“If they can win three we can win three. But it starts with just winning one, to get ourselves back on track,” Miller said, noting that Buffalo has scored first in each of the first four games. “I don’t know, for whatever reason we need to protect the lead. Geez, it almost would be better if we got scored on first.”

It was an ironic twist for a city in which “too many men on the ice” has for decades conjured memories of their 1979 Stanley Cup semifinal series against the hated Montreal Canadiens. Leading 4-3 in the final minutes of Game 7, the Bruins were called for a bench minor and Guy Lafleur tied it with just over a minute left in regulation.

Montreal won it in overtime and went on to win its 22nd NHL championship, and the Bruins remained in a title drought that is now at 37 years and counting.

Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff took the blame on Wednesday.

“Ultimately, when there’s too many men on the ice, it’s the coach’s fault,” said Ruff, who did not dispute that call but complained about the goalie interference that led to Boston’s first goal. “We didn’t blow it.”

Tim Kennedy and Steve Montador scored for Buffalo, which opened a 2-0 lead after two periods. David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron scored in the third period for Boston to send the game into overtime.

Both goalies made stunning saves to keep their teams in it.

Rask reached out to knock away a puck that even 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara couldn’t reach, preserving the tie with 11 minutes left in regulation. Miller stopped Blake Wheeler on a short-handed breakaway, then got a glove on a sneaky backhander from Satan early in the first overtime.

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