Instead, they pulled off an impressive comeback, avoided a 2-0 series hole, and grabbed some momentum as the series heads to Boston for Game 3 Monday.
Captain Zdeno Chara scored twice, including the game-winner in the third period, as the Bruins beat the Sabres 5-3 in Buffalo.
The game's big story, however, involved a first-period injury to Sabres forward Thomas Vanek.
During a rush up the ice, Vanek was slashed on what appeared to be the outside of the right knee by Boston's Johnny Boychuk.
Vanek left the ice under his own power, but watching the video, it's hard not to think this is a potentially serious injury. Vanek's knee gives out on contact from Boychuk's stick. Boychuk received a minor penalty for hooking on the play.
Vanek did not return to the game, with the team saying he had a lower-body injury. There was no further word available.
The Sabres led 2-0 and 3-2, but the Bruins impressively answered each time. Chara's winner in the third came after the Bruins won battles down low, and got the puck to Chara at the left point. With David Krejci sliding in front of Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, Chara's shot came through and Miller never saw it. The puck looked like it may have hit the stick of Sabres forward Jason Pominville, but Miller was still hopeless because he had no way of seeing it until it was too late.
Michael Ryder added two goals for the Bruins, including a thing of beauty to tie the game in the third period. Boston was able to set up a four-on-two rush after the Sabres were caught too far up the ice. Ryder went to the net, got a great feed from Andrew Ference, and tapped the puck past Miller, who committed to Ference's side of the rink and couldn't get back across.
There's obvious reason for concern with Vanek's injury, but no matter the extent, the Sabres have to find a way to move on. The series is even at 1-1, and Game 3 is coming up Monday in Boston.
If they think the Bruins are just going to slow up and back down, they're crazy. The Sabres better be ready to weather a storm Monday night, because they're in serious trouble if they don't get some positive momentum back.