Thanks to Hasek, Sabres Even Series With Bruins
By Howard Ulman
BOSTON The Buffalo Sabres evened their playoff series with the Boston Bruins and, naturally, they can thank Dominik Hasek.
The NHL's best goalie weathered a late onslaught for a 3-1 victory today, rebounding from a 4-2 loss in the second-round opener.
After gaining a split in Boston, Hasek, the NHL's two-time defending MVP, will have the home crowd behind him for Wednesday night's third game of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal. In its last nine games in Buffalo, Boston is 1-7-1, including 0-3 this season.
The Sabres hope Miroslav Satan, who led them with 40 regular-season goals, will have recovered enough from a bruised foot to return after missing his third straight game.
Without him, Buffalo's offense came from Michael Peca and Curtis Brown, until Dixon Ward's empty net goal with 37 seconds left clinched it.
Peca's goal at 1:51 of the first period and Brown's during a two-man advantage at 5:57 of the second made the score 2-0. It was the second goal of the playoffs for both.
Hasek seemed headed for his fifth career playoff shutout before Don Sweeney scored on a power play with 5:57 left in the game. With Hasek on his knees in the crease, Sweeney got his second playoff goal with a rising 30-foot shot from the left.
That seemed to energize the Bruins, who dominated the rest of the game but couldn't beat Hasek again even though they had another power play with 2:44 remaining.
The loss ended Boston's four-game winning streak, including the last three games of its opening-round win over Carolina, and gave Buffalo home-ice advantage in the series.
Hasek was the key to Buffalo reaching the Eastern Conference finals last year and his role hasn't changed for a Sabres team that relies on tight checking and mediocre offense.
His nine regular-season shutouts were second only to the 10 recorded by Boston's Byron Dafoe.
Hasek wasn't spectacular in the first period but didn't need to be as he faced just five shots. The Bruins had been outshot 21-10 before Buffalo's Alexei Zhitnik was penalized at 14:57 of the second period.
Peca then drew a roughing penalty at 16:54 and Zhitnik went back into the penalty box at 17:12.
That gave Boston a two-man advantage for 1:42 but the Bruins managed just three shots. For a span of 4:15 in which Boston was on a power play, it held a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal.
But it couldn't beat Hasek, whose best save in that stretch came on a 5-footer by Dmitri Khristich. Then with 7:46 left in the game, Hasek sprawled to corral a rebound of Kyle McLaren's 45-foot blast.
Hasek's quickest move may have come at 5:01 of the third period when he covered the puck with his glove before McLaren jabbed at it. Hasek, along with several teammates, chased McLaren into the corner where players clutched each other. McLaren and Buffalo's Jay McKee were penalized.
Peca's goal came after Dafoe tapped the puck as Brown was passing it from behind the net. It deflected to Peca who beat Dafoe with a quick shot from the inside edge of the right circle to the far side.
Brown scored with Ken Belanger and Tim Taylor in the penalty box for Boston, which led the NHL in penalty killing. Standing on the goal line to the left of Dafoe, Brown swept it to the far side past Dafoe.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press