One win will turn things around against Senators, Sabres insist

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
May 13, 2007
The Hockey News

One win will turn things around against Senators, Sabres insist

The Canadian Press
By: The Canadian Press
May 13, 2007

The Sabres believe they're still alive in the best-of-seven series and they still believe they're the conference's best road team as backed up by their 25 wins away from home during the regular season.

Now they've got to back it up if they've got any chance of getting back into the best-of-seven conference final against the Ottawa Senators.

"For us, it's just about that one game getting us back on track," Sabres centre Daniel Briere said Sunday after the Sabres rolled into the nation's capital late in the afternoon after having dropped a 4-3 double-overtime decision hours earlier.

The loss left them in a 2-0 hole heading into Game 3 Monday at Scotiabank Place (7 p.m. ET).

"Last year we won three games here in Ottawa," said Briere, whose team has won three of its five games on the road in these playoffs. "We had the best season this year on the road, so we know we can play well on the road."

The Sabres' 54 points were an NHL high during the regular season away from home and they think one victory is all it will take to get back in the series.

"Our big thing, no matter what the situation is if we win or lose, our next game's always the one we want," Buffalo centre Chris Drury said. "Certainly that's the case now."

Backed by their own self-belief Saturday, the Senators overcame a 2-0 deficit and the disappointment of allowing Briere's tying goal with 5.8 second in regulation to force overtime to go up 2-0 in a series for the first time.

"That was one of the bigger (games) that we probably have been through, especially the way it happened in overtime and having to battle after giving up that late one. It sure felt good and being up 2-0 is a really good feeling," Senators defenceman Wade Redden said Sunday morning before Ottawa held a team meeting.

Redden was among the players credited by Senators coach Bryan Murray with picking the team up after allowing the tying goal.

Ottawa responded by being the better of the teams in overtime, eventually getting their reward in the second session when Joe Corvo's shot from the point skipped past Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

"Obviously everyone kind of sank on the bench after seeing (Briere's goal) go in," Redden said. "We had to come into the room and kind of regroup. That was important.

"It's confidence in that we trust each other and it shows. Everybody is believing in what we're doing. It shows a lot of character, which is nice to see. We definitely put ourselves in a good position."

Murray applauded his team's strength u both mental and physical, since much had been made of the Senators' inability to get a second win after taking the first in a series. Ottawa had been 0-8 all-time in that department.

"The one thing I've really recognized with this group in the latter part of the year is they are tough," Murray said.

Meanwhile, the Sabres are now forced to show their own character.

Coach Lindy Ruff was in a defensive mood when he arrived in Ottawa.

He bristled at the notions the Senators had dominated the Sabres at times throughout the first two games and that a lineup change might help as he'd done in scratching Maxim Afinogenov in Round 2 against the New York Rangers.

"We got beat by a bouncing puck again," Ruff said. "We got ourselves in that situation, we worked hard to tie it up late, but at the same time, sometimes you've got to be lucky to win, too."

Ruff did admit Buffalo had to be better than it's shown so far, however.

"You pick up the pieces and you move on," he said. "You look at a team like Carolina when they won the Cup last year, they dealt with adversity, they went down 2-0 in one of their series and fought their way back so there's lots of examples of turning this into a great series."

In terms of beliefs, it's a widely held one that the Sabres need more out of their power play.

For a team loaded with seven 20-plus goal scorers during the regular season, it didn't fare well then, finishing 17th in the league at a 17.4-per cent success rate and is worse now, going 0-for-12 in the series, including a chance for the winner in the first overtime Saturday when Corvo was sent off for an interference call.

Overall in the playoffs, Buffalo is misfiring at 13-for-71 (12.7 per cent) with the man advantage.

That's got critics suggesting Ruff needs to bring defenceman Nathan Paetsch into the equation for Game 3.

The Sabres, however, insist their power play will eventually come through.

"I know people are talking that the power play's not doing a job, but I really believe that if we have the same kind of play we had (in Game 2), we're going to score goals," Briere said.

Ruff also isn't happy with some of the calls going against the Sabres, particularly back-to-back minors to Brian Campbell and Dainius Zubrus late in the second period Saturday that led to a goal by Redden that made it 3-2 for Ottawa.

He was also outspoken about a non-call against Daniel Alfredsson when the Senators' captain drilled defenceman Henrik Tallinder from behind and received no penalty on the play.

"He's real sore," Ruff said when asked about the status of one-half of his top defensive pairing. "I look at that as probably if that's the regular season, when a guy doesn't have the puck and gets run from behind head-first into the boards, that's a suspension."

Alfredsson, however, didn't think the hit was hurt.

"I don't know, he came right back after, so I don't know if he was trying to draw a penalty," he said.

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is also feeling the heat after being outplayed by Ray Emery at the other end so far.

Although the biggest goal Saturday came on a strange bounce, Murray suggested the Senators had Miller figured out.

"They've talked a lot about goaltending, well we feel very definitely that we're in a situation where we can score some goals," Murray said, although he claimed "vulnerable" was too strong a word to use when describing Miller's performance.

"He's like every goaltender," Murray said. "There are places you can put the puck that you have a real good chance to score."

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One win will turn things around against Senators, Sabres insist