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Sabres Central

Sabres win series against Philly
By Rick Anderson
April 2, 2002

Sabres goalie Martin Biron makes a big stop as Flyers right winger Rusian Fedotenko tries to go after the rebound with Sabres defenseman Dmitri Kalinin trying to block himi during first period action.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

The Buffalo Sabres are ready to face the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs. They just have to somehow sneak into the playoffs first. The Sabres made it a clean sweep of the Flyers this season as they beat the Flyers 3-1 Monday night in HSBC Arena. It was the second 3-1 win over Philadelphia in 3 days as the Sabres concluded their home-and-home mini series with Philly with a flourish.

Miroslav Satan scored the first and third goal for the Sabres, while J.P. Dumont scored the winner as the Sabres survived a sluggish first period to sweep the season series. The Sabres beat the Flyers in 5 games last spring in the opening round of the playoffs. If somehow they can overcome the 5-point Canadien and Capitals lead for the final playoff spot, they just may end up playing the Flyers once again to open the playoffs. But letís get too far ahead of the game. The Sabres have to win almost every one of their remaining 6 games and need a lot of help in order to achieve this dream matchup one more time.

The first period was sloppy to say the least. The Sabres only mustered 3 shots on Roman Cechmanek in the first period and totaled just 17 shots in the game. But they made the most of them, especially in the final period when Dumont tallied the winner and Satan scored into the empty net with just 5 ticks on the clock.

Even though Satan scored 2 goals, the star of the game had to be Sabres goalie Martin Biron. He made 34 saves and only Keith Primeau was able to put the rubber behind him. Biron was especially sharp in the third period when he made 14 saves. With 20 ticks on the clock, newly acquired Adam Oates sent a laser pass to Simon Gagne parked in the crease area. Biron used his exterior equipment to stop Gagneís first shot as he ringed it off the left post. Then the puck came right back to him and Biron stopped it with his official equipment, his pad before covering it up about an inch from the goal line.

"It was right on (the line)," admitted Biron. "I was trying to push myself out, and the guys were grabbing my jersey and pulling me out of there. It was pretty lucky, I guess."

After missing 14 games, Cechmanek came back to man the Flyers goal and was called upon to stop 17 shots. He missed on two of them and the third one was when he was on the bench in favor of the extra attacker.

Satan opened the scoring 3:21of the second stanza when the Sabres had a two-man advantage. Primeau tied it up with a wicked shot from the slot area 10:34 into the final period that sailed over Bironís right shoulder.

Satan also had a hand in Dumontís goal. He sent him a perfect pass from the left corner, to set up Dumont in the slot. Dumont, celebrating his 24th birthday and playing with an injured shoulder and sore neck, fired a blast of his own that deflected off Cechmanekís glove around 4 minutes after Primeauís goal.

"It hit my glove," described Cechmanek. "It was a great shot. By the time I saw it, it was very quick."

After sweeping the Flyers in 4, one has to wonder why this team doesnít put this kind of effort in every game, especially against teams like Atlanta and Columbus. The next team they tangle with are Michael Pecaís New York Islanders who invade Buffalo on Wednesday.

Sabres Talk

The two pure goal scorers on the Sabres put up the numbers Monday against the Flyers. Satan, who is not known for dishing out any punishing hits, did his share against the bigger Flyers.

"Some guys are sacrificing their bodies," said Satan. "That showed the desperation we need to have to win games."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was impressed with Dumontís grit in coming back after being injured and scoring the winning goal.

"I didn't think he'd come back, and he ends up scoring the game-winning goal," said Ruff. "That was a pretty big effort on his part."

"You want to show your teammates, playing in a big game, you want to be a part of it," related Dumont. "It was a big game for us and everybody played really hard. When it happened it was painful. The doctor said, "Maybe we should just wait.' I just wanted to be a part of the game tonight."

The Flyers, who have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season, the loss marked the first 3-game losing streak of the year.

"For our club, three is out of the ordinary," admitted Primeau about the losing streak. "We quickly have to find some balance in our game."

Flyers Coach Bill Barber was not going to get on his team for losing. He felt they played with intensity even though the lost.

"I still admired our guys and the way they played," articulated Barber. "They played hard, and that's more important right now than anything. We made a step in the right direction as far as effort goes."

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