Sabres Close Out Bruins in Game 6, 3-2
By Bill Porter
BUFFALO, N.Y. It's final. Buffalo and Toronto will meet in the playoffs for the first time to decide who will face off for the Stanley Cup.
The Sabres advanced to the Eastern Conference final against division rival Toronto with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
The fans chanted ``We want the Leafs!'' as the Sabres smothered the Bruins' offense and wound down a relatively easy night for injured goaltender Dominik Hasek.
Michael Peca, Wayne Primeau and Curtis Brown scored and Geoff Sanderson had a pair of assists as Buffalo limited Boston to 25 shots on Hasek, including five in the second period.
Hasek showed no ill effects of an old groin injury that flared up in Buffalo's loss in Game 5, but the Sabres didn't let the Bruins test him too much.
Steve Heinze tied the game for Boston in the first period and Joe Thornton threw a scare into Buffalo with a tip-in with a minute to play.
Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe made 18 saves for Boston, which lost three straight after winning the first game at home. The Sabres have won their last two playoff series against Boston, including a sweep in 1993.
Buffalo reached the Eastern Conference final for the second straight year. The Sabres lost to the Washington Capitals in six games last season. Toronto advanced to the conference final for the first time since 1994 by wrapping up the series against Pittsburgh in six games with a 4-3 overtime victory on Monday night.
The Buffalo victory ended one of the more contentious series, characterized by heavy hits and verbal jabs. Bruins coach Pat Burns and Buffalo's Lindy Ruff complained about hits on their players and traded barbs through the media.
Buffalo emphasized defense in Game 6. The Sabres muscled the Bruins forwards off the puck and allowed few good scoring chances. When the Bruins did get the occasional hot shot, Hasek was there.
After allowing four goals in two periods in Boston's 5-3 win in Game 5, Hasek complained about the groin injury. Ruff, concerned as much about Hasek's poor play as his lack of mobility in that game, pulled the NHL's two-time defending MVP.
On Tuesday, the Sabres led 2-1 in the first period and added a goal early in the second.
Buffalo scored the first goal in five of the series' six games. Peca's goal, his fourth of the playoffs, came on Buffalo's fifth shot 4:49 into the game with Bruins center Shawn Bates in the penalty box for holding the stick.
Joe Juneau backhanded a pass from the corner to Peca at the top of the circle to Dafoe's right. Peca held the puck and fired it past Ray Bourque and through Dafoe's legs for a 1-0 lead.
The Sabres have scored at least one power-play goal in all 10 of their playoff games. Their longest streak of power-play goals in the regular season was five games.
Boston answered with a power-play goal at 12:49 with Dean Sylvester out for interference. Heinze scored his fourth playoff goal with a shot that deflected in off Hasek's skate.
It was the fourth shot of the game for Boston, outshot by Buffalo in the first period 10-7.
Primeau regained the lead for the Sabres with his goal, scored with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first period. Dafoe turned aside Geoff Sanderson's shot and Primeau fired in the rebound over a sprawling Sanderson from a nearly impossible angle near the goal line.
Brown slipped in behind the Boston defense and popped in Erik Ramsussen's pass from the corner for a 3-1 lead two minutes into the second period.
The crowd booed Ray Bourque every time the Bruins defenseman touched the puck. Bourque, the all-time scoring leader against the Sabres in the playoffs, finished the series with four assists, including one Tuesday.
Peca leads Buffalo in points with four goals and seven assists, and has at least one point in eight of the 10 playoff games. Second-year coach Ruff is 18-7 in the playoffs, including last season's trip to the conference final.
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