Hasek Back in Form as Buffalo Wins, 3-1
BOSTON--Dominik Hasek is hot again and tempers may soon reach the boiling point now that Buffalo has gained a hard-hitting split of its first two playoff games in Boston.
The Sabres beat the Bruins 3-1 yesterday as Hasek stopped 28 shots and Michael Peca, Curtis Brown and Dixon Ward scored for Buffalo, which rebounded from a 4-2 opening loss.
"I thought he played good," said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff of Hasek, the NHL's two-time defending MVP. "I thought he played real good."
Hasek was headed for his fifth career playoff shutout before Don Sweeney's power play goal with 5:57 left cut the lead to 2-1. The Sabres survived another power play and restored the two-goal margin on Ward's empty-net goal with 37 seconds remaining.
"This was the most important game of the season for us," Brown said. "It didn't matter how we won. We just had to get the win."
The Sabres will have the home crowd behind them in Wednesday night's third game of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal. And they may have the Bruins pounding them.
Boston's players were upset when Alexei Zhitnik smacked Bruins captain Ray Bourque into the boards from behind late in the second period.
"It was a dirty hit. That's for sure," Bourque said. "There's a lot more games to play. You can dish it out. Sometimes you find yourself on the other side of those hits."
Zhitnik, who drew a two-minute penalty, said he didn't intend to hurt Bourque.
"If I wanted to injure him," Zhitnik said, "he wouldn't be playing anymore."
Tune in Wednesday for the next round.
"If they take a run at our best player, they should expect the same thing back," Boston's Rob DiMaio said.
The Bruins have a more important task: winning in a building where they are 1-7-1 in their last nine games, including 0-3 this season.
"A lot of teams are winning on the road," Bourque said, "but it's going to be tough."
Especially if the Sabres start the game as aggressively as they did yesterday. Peca scored 1:51 into the game and Buffalo outshot Boston 17-5 in the first period.
"The first half of the game was our best effort in the playoffs," Hasek said. "We outskated them and outhit them. I'm sure Boston will be ready the next game."
The Sabres hope Miroslav Satan, who led them with 40 regular-season goals, will be also after missing his third straight game with a bruised foot.
Peca and Brown provided the offense with their second playoff goals. Brown's came during a two-man advantage at 5:57 of the second period.
Sweeney made it 2-1 with his second playoff goal with a rising 30-foot shot from the left while Hasek was on his knees in the crease.
Maple Leafs 4, Penguins 2
TORONTO--Mats Sundin broke out of his scoring slump and dropped Jaromir Jagr with one of the hardest body checks of the game to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory last night that evened their playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at one win each.
Sundin scored his second and third postseason goals and assisted on goals by Steve Thomas and Lonny Bohonos, whose unexpected appearance invigorated the Maple Leafs' first line.
Kip Miller and German Titov beat Curtis Joseph, who was otherwise at his acrobatic best.
Game Three in the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal is tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.
Titov's goal off a cross-crease pass from Jagr 12:42 into the third period set up a tense finish.
But Thomas blasted a slap shot from the circle to the left of goalie Tom Barrasso high into the Pittsburgh net at 16:50 to end the suspense. Penguins coach Kevin Constantine yelled at referees Don Koharski and Paul Stewart and applauded them for missing what appeared to be an obvious trip of a Penguin that helped the Maple Leafs gain possession of the puck.
The Maple Leafs had jumped to a 2-0 lead in outshooting the Penguins 12-7 in the first period.
Bohonos, who has bounced between the NHL and the AHL for five years and who had been brought in after the elimination last week of the St. John's farm team, hadn't expected to play. But he was given the left-wing spot of Freddie Modin, who was dropped from the lineup because of his lack of productivity, and had an immediate impact alongside Sundin and Steve Thomas.
Bohonos backhanded in a rebound at 6:06, and got an assist when Sundin did the same at 14:41 on a power play.
"It's definitely one of my career highlights," Bohonos said during an interview at the first intermission.
Red Wings 4, Avalanche 0
DENVER--On his 34th birthday, Steve Yzerman lit two candles--at the expense of Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy.
Yzerman scored two goals and Bill Ranford gained his fourth career playoff shutout as the Detroit Red Wings beat Colorado 4-0 yesterday to take a 2-0 series lead.
Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference semifinal are scheduled for Detroit on Tuesday and Thursday.
"I have spent better birthdays," Yzerman said. "But I won't tell you what happened. It wasn't with a bunch of sports reporters."
In a game featuring the sort of fierce hitting that has come to define this rivalry, the Red Wings stayed unbeaten in these playoffs. They registered their sixth straight playoff victory and 11th straight since last year's postseason.
Detroit, seeking a third consecutive Stanley Cup title, gave coach Scotty Bowman his 200th career playoff win--extending his NHL record.
Bowman, who entered this year's playoffs with 194 wins, said, "I knew if we won six games this year, I'd feel very good. If not, I'd feel very bad. Somebody reminded me before the playoffs, but that's the only time I've thought about it. I worry more about the 111 losses."
Yzerman, the Red Wings' captain, scored in each of the first two periods, giving him eight goals in the playoffs to equal a career high.