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Hockey

Stealing one

Hasek's saves help Sabres beat Senators in series opener

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Posted: Tuesday May 04, 1999 01:15 PM

  Domination: Marian Hossa and the Senators took 26 more shots on goal than the Sabres, but goalie Dominik Hasek laid all out to ensure a Buffalo victory. AP

KANATA, Ontario (AP) -- If anyone needed a reminder why goaltender Dominik Hasek has been the NHL's most valuable player the last two years, they got it on Wednesday night.

The acrobatic Hasek made 40 saves and Curtis Brown scored the game winner on a second-period power play to lift the Buffalo Sabres to a series-opening 2-1 playoff victory over the Ottawa Senators.

"They had a lot of good chances," Hasek said. "A couple of times, I was lucky.

"I was on top tonight, but you don't know what will happen tomorrow. That's why you don't want to get too high when you win."

The Sabres lead the best-of-7 Eastern Conference quarter-final 1-0 with Game 2 set for Friday night in Ottawa.

Michael Peca scored in the first period for the Sabres, who were outshot 41-15 overall but made the most of their rare chances on shaky Ottawa goaltender Ron Tugnutt.

Wade Redden was the only Senator to beat Hasek. His score came on a power-play blast from the high slot in the first period.

"I should have made that save," Hasek said. "I could see the puck. He was out by the blue line. My job is to make that save."

Hasek did more than his job with a flurry of spectacular saves in the third period, when the Sabres were outshot 17-6, including a behind-the-back stick save on Alexei Yashin's shot at the side of the crease.

"We knew Hasek would be a big factor," said Redden. "We just have to find a way to beat him.

"We've scored on him before. I don't think we were frustrated. We have to keep playing the same way. We'll get goals."

The Senators came into the series as the favorites after finishing second in the conference. They lost for only the second time in their last 13 meetings with the Sabres.

But this one was lost on Hasek's goaltending and their own inability to capitalize on five second-period power plays awarded to them by the referee tandem of Denis Larue and Kerry Fraser -- including a two-man advantage for 1:42.

Several players, including Hasek, called the five-on-three the game's turning point.

"The bottom line was that we didn't win the special teams," said Ottawa coach Jacques Martin.

Buffalo captain Peca, who shadowed Yashin and held his Ottawa counterpart off the scoresheet although Yashin had eight shots on goal, said the Sabres are used to winning while being outshot.

The Sabres like to say that opponents pile up shot totals with shots from far out, but the truth is the Senators shot from everywhere, only to see Hasek make the saves.

"We'd like to play better," said Peca. "We'd like to narrow the margin -- I mean, outshoot them. We want to come out Friday and play with a little more savvy and control the puck more."

A chanting, sellout crowd of 18,500 waving white towels greeted the Senators, but from the outset it appeared that Ottawa's worst nightmare -- being shut down by Hasek -- might be realized.

While Hasek made big saves early, the Sabres scored on their second shot on goal.

Peca partially fanned on a backhand shot from the slot and the puck rolled past a startled Tugnutt for a 1-0 Buffalo lead at 4:32.

"I'd like to have that one back," Tugnutt said.

Ottawa outshot the Sabres 16-4 in the period and Redden tied it on a power play at 14:46.

Bruce Gardiner was off for slashing when, after a point shot by Alexei Zhitnik went wide, Peca slipped the puck to Brown all alone in front of Tugnutt. His high shot from in close gave Buffalo the winner 11:24 into the second.

The Senators lost a good chance to tie it in the opening minute of the third, when Bonk batted a rebound toward an open net, only to see the puck hit Peca's skates.

 
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Dominik Hasek made 40 saves, sealing an improbable win for the Sabres.
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