Hasek hot again
Sabres shut out Bruins, move within 1 of conference finals
Posted: Saturday May 15, 1999 10:16 AM
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- It was the same old story with a plot twist. The Buffalo Sabres combined the usual great goaltending of Dominik Hasek with an unusually potent offense to beat Boston 3-0 on Friday night.
The Sabres launched 39 shots and Hasek made 24 saves as Buffalo moved within one victory of clinching its second-round series.
"Right from the beginning to the end we were the better team tonight," said Hasek, who set a team record with his fifth career playoff shutout. "I don't care about shutouts in the playoffs; it's everything to win the game."
Seventh-seeded Buffalo swept the No. 2 Ottawa Senators in the first round and now can finish off the Bruins in Boston on Sunday and become the first team to move to the conference finals.
Two of the last three games would be played in Boston if the Bruins were to survive seven games.
Boston coach Pat Burns vowed to cut his hair shorter with each round his team won.
The coach's hair, what was left of it after Boston downed Carolina in the first round, appears safe. But don't tell the Sabres that. "I don't think they'll roll over," Peca said. "We're expecting their best game of the series on Sunday."
"It's disappointing but we have to believe it's possible to come back," said Burns.
Hasek made 10 saves in each of the second and third periods as he broke the team record for playoff shutouts set by Bob Sauve.
Zhitnik and Varada both scored in the second period. Peca's short-handed goal, his first of the season, capped the scoring with 8:21 to play.
The Sabres have lost five of six playoffs to the Bruins, but now Buffalo has won seven of the last eight playoff games against Boston. That includes the Sabres' sweep of the Bruins in 1993, the last time the teams met in the playoffs.
Boston's season will end soon if history is any indication. In all 18 previous series the Bruins trailed 3-1, they never came back to win. Boston managed to win a second game after trailing 3-1 only three times and never tied any of the series.
"There's going to have to be a massive adjustment in our game," said Bruins goaltender Byron Dafoe. "We can't come out the way we did tonight and expect to win. I don't see us putting out this kind of effort at home."
The Sabres built 3-1 leads in two previous series and won both times in the fifth game, beating Chicago in 1975 and Philadelphia in the first round last year.
The Sabres, whose forechecking game and fans both were taken out of the first two periods of Buffalo's 3-2 comeback win in Game 3, brought both back with a vengeance Friday night.
Buffalo scored the first goal on the power play when Zhitnik angled across center ice with the puck and slid it to Curtis Brown at the blue-line boards. Brown's cross-ice pass connected with defenseman Jason Woolley and Zhitnik tipped in Woolley's blast from the point at 8:20.
It was the third playoff goal for Zhitnik and sixth assist for Woolley. The goal offered Zhitnik a measure of revenge after the Bruins suggested they might target the Sabres defenseman for his hit from behind on Bruins captain Ray Bourque in Buffalo's win in Game 2.
"Personally I don't pay any attention to that kind of stuff," he said. "I can take a hit, I can give a hit."
The goal by Varada, his third of the playoffs, came with 17 seconds left in the second when he turned with a pass from Dixon Ward and launched a slap shot from the faceoff circle to the left of Dafoe. The low-angle shot beat the goalie to the far side.
The Sabres have scored on the power play in all eight of their playoff games this year.
Peca's score, his third of the playoffs and first short-handed goal of the season, made it 3-0. Peca raced after a loose puck that caromed off the glass and shoveled it in at 11:39.
Second-year Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff's playoff record improved to 17-6 (.739), including 10-5 last season when the team advanced to the conference finals and lost to Washington 4-2. Ruff is one of nine NHL coaches with a minimum of 20 playoff games and a winning percentage of .600 or better.
The Sabres cracked Boston's tight defensive coverages for 16 shots in the first period, but couldn't score.
The Bruins nearly scored late in the first when Hasek skated out of his crease after a loose puck and Steve Heinze whacked a backhander at the net. The puck was deflected wide by Peca, who stopped a shot in similar fashion in the Ottawa series.
The Bruins pressured with 41 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the second period. Hasek came through with two saves, including his gloving of a wrist shot from the slot by Steve Heinze.
The Sabres, best among playoff teams at killing penalties at home, stymied seven Bruins power plays.
Bruins center Joe Thorton was injured in the first period when he took an elbow to the head and did not return. There was no immediate word on his condition.
"We will evaluate him tomorrow and see where he's at," Burns said.
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