Hasek leads Sabres to 4-3 victory over Senators
Posted: Saturday May 29, 1999 06:39 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y. (CNN/SI) -- Even the Buffalo faithful weren't expecting anything like this. Many outsiders said Buffalo didn't have a chance to beat top-seeded Ottawa in the playoffs.
Good thing for the Sabres that Dominik Hasek wasn't listening.
"I don't care what other people say," Hasek said after making 40 saves to help seventh-ranked Buffalo complete a surprising playoff sweep of the No. 2 Ottawa Senators with a 4-3 victory Tuesday, April 27.
But not even the optimistic Hasek spotted a sweep on the horizon. "Nobody expected us to win 4-0," said Hasek, whose team failed to beat Ottawa in five tries during the regular season, four of which ended in ties. "Nobody in this locker room expected it."
Vaclav Varada scored two goals and Hasek, who recorded a team-record fourth career playoff shutout in Sunday's 3-0 win, had his shutout streak snapped at 144 minutes, 55 seconds on a goal by Jason York at 6:24 of the second period.
"We don't just say it for the sake of hearing ourselves when we say we have an opportunity to go all the way," said Sabres captain Michael Peca, whose team lost in the conference finals last year.
The Sabres once again smothered Ottawa's leading scorer Alexei Yashin, who finished the series with no goals or assists but totaled a team-high five penalties. The Sabres' winning goal, on a slap shot from the blue line by defenseman Zhitnik, came with Yashin in the box for elbowing in the third period.
"Everybody has to face adversity," said Yashin, shut down by Peca throughout the series. "The best thing I can do now is remember I gave the best for my team."
"It always hurts when you lose," said Senators forward Andreas Johansson. "With a sweep, maybe it hurts a little bit extra."
The three goals against Hasek matched the entire number scored against the two-time MVP in the series' first three games. Hasek allowed six goals on 162 shots in the series.
Nine Sabres scored goals in the series -- to five players for Ottawa -- and 14 finished with points for Buffalo. "This is important in the playoffs," said Hasek, standing on a raised platform in front of his locker. "You cannot expect just one player -- [Miroslav] Satan or Michael Peca -- to score every game. Every game was different. Every game somebody stepped up."
With less than a minute left, fans tossed brooms on the ice. It was the Sabres' fourth best-of-7 series sweep and the first time they completed a best-of-7 sweep at home since they ousted Boston in 1993.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, whose team slid from first in the conference to a battle for the seventh seed, was glad to meet Ottawa and not New Jersey in the first round. "Ottawa was a better matchup," Ruff said. "We had the edge in goaltending and Jersey was a bigger, stronger team that could have punished us."
Ottawa goaltender Ron Tugnutt, who gave up two goals on 15 shots in the first game of the series and hadn't played since, allowed two goals on 11 shots in the first period and finished with 22 saves.
The Senators lost in overtime to the Sabres in the seventh game of the 1997 conference quarterfinals when Derek Plante's shot from the blue line tore through Tugnutt's glove, eliminating Ottawa from its first-ever modern-day playoff appearance.
Buffalo scored twice in the first period and added a goal in the second.
The Sabres opened the scoring for the fourth straight game in the series with the goal by Rasmussen. Wayne Primeau skated the puck into the Senators' zone unmolested and slapped it on Tugnutt. Varada swatted at the rebound before Rasmussen poked it in at 8:29. It was the first career playoff goal for Rasmussen.
Varada, assisted by Michael Peca and Dixon Ward, scored his first playoff goal just 1:48 later for a 2-0 lead. Varada cruised the slot and picked up a pass off the boards from Peca, and Varada's shot trickled in between Tugnutt's pads at 10:17.
York's second-period goal made it 2-1. Daniel Alfredsson left the puck at the top of the left circle for York, whose slap shot from the middle of the circle deflected in off Hasek's pad.
Buffalo went up 3-1 three minutes later on the second goal by Varada, who easily tapped in Ward's pass.
It was only the second career multi-goal game for Varada, who scored one goal in each of the Sabres' three playoff series last year.
McEachern's second playoff goal -- Ottawa's first even-strength goal of the series -- made it 3-2 midway through the second. Zhitnik put the Sabres up 4-2.
All five regular-season games between the teams went into overtime this season, with the Senators winning 3-2 on Dec. 30 in Buffalo and the other four ending in ties. The Sabres won the second game of the series in double overtime before winning Game 3 easily.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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