Sabres and Hasek Return as Winners
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, May 28, 1999; Page D4
BUFFALO, May 27 – The Toronto Maple Leafs finally got to meet the real Buffalo Sabres tonight, the ones with goaltender Dominik Hasek and winger Miroslav Satan in the lineup. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, that was not good news.
Satan, Joe Juneau and Stu Barnes scored goals just over seven minutes apart in the second period to rally Buffalo past the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals before 18,595 at Marine Midland Arena.
Hasek, who sat out the first two games with an injured groin, was back in his familiar spot after being replaced by backup Dwayne Roloson. Hasek made 24 saves, giving the Sabres an emotional boost after Roloson allowed nine goals in the first two games.
"To get Dom back between the pipes, you could just see the energy and the boost in the dressing room," Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff said. "It just gave us a big lift."
Satan was another welcome sight for the Sabres. He had been out of action since badly spraining his right ankle in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Ottawa Senators on April 25.
Tonight, he scored Buffalo's second goal, had an assist and was voted the game's first star. Hasek was the second star.
"I've said throughout the playoffs that there were times when we had eight or nine chances in a period and didn't score," Ruff said. "If you give Miro two or three of those, he'd score. And he proved it again tonight."
The teams spent most of the first period playing cautiously. They combined for only seven shots through the first 16 minutes, five by Buffalo.
It took an incredible shot from a difficult angle for Toronto to score its first goal of the series against Hasek. Working from the side of the net, center Yanic Perreault sent the puck high over Hasek's left shoulder as the goaltender went down prematurely at 16 minutes 8 seconds of the first period. It was Toronto's third shot of the game.
Toronto's 1-0 lead held up for one period. Then came two big mistakes by the Maple Leafs that helped trigger a three-goal Buffalo explosion in the second.
Former Washington Capitals winger Sylvain Cote tried to hit defenseman Tomas Kaberle with a pass from the faceoff circle toward the Toronto net. It was a bad pass, which went off Kaberle's skate. Satan was there to scoop it up and flip an unassisted backhander past goaltender Curtis Joseph (20 saves) to tie the game at 1 at 3:02 of the second.
The Maple Leafs' second blunder came when they gave up a short-handed goal to fall behind 2-1. It was set up when center Mats Sundin allowed his Buffalo counterpart, Michael Peca, to get past him and fire a shot that ricocheted off defenseman Alexander Karpovtsev. Joseph reacted to the shot and vacated the net, leaving it open for another former Capital, winger Juneau, to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead at 3:45 of the second.
Less than four minutes later, Buffalo took a 3-1 lead on a power-play goal by suddenly red-hot center Stu Barnes. It was Barnes's fourth goal in three games to give him the series lead after he had gone scoreless in 31 games. The Maple Leafs responded with a power-play goal of their own late in the second when Karpovtsev lifted a shot over a sprawling, stickless Hasek to cut Buffalo's lead to 3-2.
But as the game went on, Hasek looked more and more like his old self. The Sabres closed the scoring with an empty-netter by center Curtis Brown with 28 seconds left.
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