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Sabres Central

Montreal Habitants help beat Habs
By Rick Anderson
December 6, 2000

The Buffalo Sabres withstood a last minute onslaught by the Montreal Canadiens to beat the Habs 3-2. Martin Biron and Denis Hamel came home Tuesday night and put a show on before friends and family. Biron was solid in goal in recording his second win of the season and Hamel had his hand in two of the Sabres three goals. The Sabres played a valiant road game in posting their second straight victory away from HSBC Arena.
Craig Darby raises his stick as he checks Sabres' goalie Martin Biron in the second period.
[AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz]

Hamel and James Patrick shared the spotlight as they each got a goal and assist apiece. Dave Andreychuk scored the other goal and the Sabres closed in to just one point behind Ottawa and Toronto for first in the Eastern Conference.

Biron had his second good showing if front of his family in Molson Centre. Back on November 25, Biron allowed three goals in a 5-3 Sabres victory. Tuesday night, Biron stopped 30 shots and probably would have allowed only one goal if the Sabres hadn't taken two penalties near the end of the game.

"I think the last time I played in Montreal before these last two wins was in the Forum, and it didn't go too well," Biron said. "I'm glad they moved."

Hanging on

Things got really hectic for the Sabres at the end of the game. Similar to their last game in Pittsburgh when the Penguins scored two goals in the last minute and a half, the same almost happened in Montreal. With around a 1:30 to go in the game, the Canadiens suddenly found themselves with a two man advantage. They pulled their goaltender to get a 6 skaters to 3 situation. Trevor Linden picked up the puck at the bottom of the left faceoff circle put his shot into the upper corner over the sprawled Biron. Just like the game in Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Canadiens were swarming all over the Sabres goalie, coming dangerously close to tying the game up. But Biron kept the Habs at bay the rest of the way and the Sabres

"You don't see that too often in this league," said Biron about the Sabres getting two penalties in the last two minutes of the game.

Hamel comes home

"To play in Montreal was always my dream," commented Hamel, who lives in nearby Lachute, Quebec. "I always watched the Canadiens growing up, so to score a goal tonight was really something special."

Hamel got his chance to show his stuff in front of relatives and friends and he didn't disappoint. He set up the Sabres first goal and scored the game winner. Around the halfway mark of the first period, Hamel showed his strength as he carried the puck along the right boards, drove to the net and got his shot off that Theodore stopped. Andreychuk came in as the trailer and pounced on the rebound. His backhand shot just got over the line for Andreychuk's first goal in weeks.

In the third period with Buffalo up 2-1, Hamel chased into the Habs zone and swiped at the puck while Stephane Robidas was trying to get control of the bouncing puck. After Hamel's one-handed swipe, the puck somehow went through the crease and hit the far post and crossed the goal line for a goal. It was a bizarre play, but Hamel showed persistence and drive on what turned out to be the winning goal.

"That was more luck than anything," admitted Hamel. "I turned around and was wondering where the puck was, until I saw it in the net."

"I've liked a lot about Denis," said Ruff. "I think the one thing he's waiting for is just a rock-solid opportunity. I think he's skated extremely well. We've used him in a penalty-killing role when we've had him in the lineup and he's done a very good job there.

Hamel has not only proved that he can skate, but when the Dallas Stars were in town, he also showed that he can handle himself with his fists.

"It's kind of a numbers game with Denis where time will probably get him a more consistent position on the team. Right now I don't see anything I could criticize him on. He's worked extremely hard. He's skated very well. He's supplied a lot of forechecking pressure when he's on the ice."

Strong game by blue-liners

The defense kept the shooters to the outside for most of the game in helping out their young goalie. It was the second stellar defensive game in a row after a complete letdown last Friday against Pittsburgh when they scored 6 goals

With only seven seconds remaining in the second period, defenseman James Patrick pinched in and scored his first goal of the season. Miroslav Satan picked up the puck in the right corner and flipped a pass to Patrick who had gone in front of the net. He put a backhander over Theodore's shoulder.

Andreychuk's goal was the 558th in his career .

"To be honest, I don't really think about it," Andreychuk admitted. "With all the guys I've passed, it's hard to fathom I'm in that group. Eighteen years ago I would never have thought this would happen. Down the road, when I retire, it'll mean a lot more."

The City of Buffalo received its second snowstorm in two weeks and as a result the Sabres postponed their Wednesday night game with the New Jersey Devils to Thursday night.

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