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Sabres Central

Sabres hold back Sens, win 3rd straight

By Rick Anderson
October 8, 2006
Déjà vu! A very familiar sight in Ottawa, as Jason Pominville celebrates a winning goal against the Sens.
[AP Photo/Jonathan Hayward,CP]

He's the only goalie in the NHL that wears a completely white goalie mask. Marty Biron is wearing an unpainted mask in anticipation of an eventual trade with another team. He is not going to paint it until he knows who he will finally end up with. If the Sabres hang onto him the entire season and cannot grant him his trade, he will still most likely be gone after this season. Biron will be an unrestricted free agent and even though he has always loved Buffalo, he wants to be a starter in the NHL.

Ryan Miller blocks Biron's path to the goal and he knows that. Biron has always been a team man and has encouraged Miller the whole way. However, there comes a time when a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. In Biron's case, that means that sooner or later he will be wearing different colors. Thus his virgin white mask.

Biron was the difference in the Sabres return to Ottawa Saturday night. He stopped 34 shots, some of them point blank, and was the first star in the Sabres 4-3 win over the frustrated Senators. Biron, who has one of the best glove hands in the NHL, used it like a short stop during the game, snaring many bullets shot his way by the men in red, black and white. It wasn't until 11:37 of the second period that he had his shutout bid ruined when the Sens broke down on a 2-on-1 on Biron, with former Sabre Denis Hamel feeding Dean McAmmond, who pinpointed a shot over Biron’s right shoulder top shelf.

Biron knows that he will have to go back to the bench for the majority of the season. However, he also knows that his time is coming and he will maybe someday have a chance to frustrate the Sabres shooters just like he did the Senators on Saturday.

Sabres strike early

The Sabres opened the scoring just 33 seconds into the game with a goal by Henrik Tallinder and extended that with their first powerplay goal of the season by Brian Campbell. After the Sens broke Birons shutout bid, they regained a 2 goal lead when captain Chris Drury scored on a rifle shot 3 minutes into the final period. That came after he led a 3-on-1 break and decided to take the shot himself.

The Senators then pulled out all stops and Sens coach Bryan Murray reunited The Pizza Line of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Murray probably wishes he had started the game with that line intact as they finally were able to get two quick goals on Biron. Those two Sens tallies were sandwiched around a goal by that Senator tormentor, Jason Pominville, who got the winner (just like the last time these two teams met in the playoffs).

The Sens came out lethargic in the first period, but then picked it up in the second period. After losing their last game in Ottawa to the Leafs 6-0, fans had hoped to see more fire out of the team against the team that eliminated them in the playoffs.

"I think they just have to play and get over it," Murray described his teams sluggish start. "Handling this pressure should be good for them...and we have to get our best players scoring goals like they did in the third."

The Senators led the league most of last season with a powerful offense and stingy defense. Last season they came out of the gates with guns a blazing. Now they are trying to rediscover the magic they had last season.

"I don't think it's any time to panic," put in Spezza. "We know we have to be a better team, especially to start off games. We took too many penalties early on today but we know we're still a good hockey team. Wins aren't going to come too easily in this league."

Sabres reverse Senators dominance

The Sabres, meanwhile continue their dominance over the same team that was embarrassing them a year ago. The Sabres still remember that 10-4 thrashing at the hands of the Senators in Buffalo early last November and the lopsided Senator victories sandwiched around that game.

"We sure took our lumps here and at home versus these guys prior to last year," Drury recalled. "I wouldn't say we feel comfortable here but we're glad we can come here and have confidence playing here, and hopefully we can keep getting wins here."

The Sabres are now 3-0, including two straight shootout wins. With the Sabres coming back to the place of one of their highest highs last spring, they are starting to be one of the most hated teams for the Senator fans. Having Pominville scoring another winning goal is some more salt in their wounds.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff would like to have an easier time winning games, but he will take the 9 points in 3 games any time.

"They've all been close," said Ruff after the game. "It would be nice to run away with a game but I don't think, in a lot of cases, this league is about teams dominating other teams. We got off to a good start, they had a heck of a second period, and then the third period was kept pretty close."



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