Keeping hope alive
Goal-starved Sabres stumble toward elimination
Posted: Saturday June 19, 1999 01:35 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Buffalo's offense is stalled and its defense is losing a key player. But the Sabres still have Dominik Hasek.
And they have another advantage, however slim.
The blue-collar team will have its big blue-collar crowd behind it when the Stanley Cup finals resume with Game 6 Saturday night at Marine Midland Arena.
"It will be a game that will sum up our community," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Friday. "We're going to outwork them, outhit them and do everything possible to win."
All of that won't be enough without some scoring.
Hasek says it pains him to see his team struggling at the other end of the ice as it faces elimination, trailing the best-of-7 series 3-2.
"I can see from the goal that it is very tough to get chances," Hasek said.
The Sabres need goals to end their 29-year quest for a Stanley Cup.
"Now would be a good time," Ruff said. "We have a lot of guys we need to come through for us."
Defenseman Rhett Warrener is presumed out for the series with a broken ankle sustained in a fight with Stars defenseman Derian Hatcher in the Stars' 2-0 win Thursday. Warrener underwent surgery Friday.
Even more worrisome are players who are healthy, but not scoring. Miroslav Satan has no goals against the Stars in the finals after leading the Sabres with 40 during the regular season.
The Sabres have scored only three goals in the last three games, including a pair of gifts from the Stars in a 2-1 Buffalo victory in Game 4.
"We don't want to give up breakaways with reckless abandon, but we want our defense pinching and helping to create chances," Ruff said.
The Buffalo power play has sputtered, going 0-for-16 in the last three games.
"We've got to get some shots from the power play," Ruff said. "We've got to get Woolley to quarterback it and relax a little bit and generate chances on the power play."
Buffalo has the best home record of the playoffs at 8-1. The Sabres have won 14 of their last 16 at home, counting the regular season.
"We always feel comfortable at home," Peca said. "We've been a strong team at home for the past few years."
Something has to work if the Sabres are to avoid handing the Cup over in their own building.
"One thing we can do is just stick our noses in front of the net and hang out there a little bit after the first chance and look for rebounds," Peca said.
Hasek says he hasn't felt this much pressure since winning the Olympic gold for the Czech Republic in 1998.
"It's very similar to the Olympics because it's a must-win game," Hasek said.
"Do I have to play a perfect game?" he said. "Looks like it. I cannot make any mistakes."
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