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Sabres Central

Biron's heroics helps Sabres tie Caps
By Rick Anderson
December 21, 2000

The Sabres and Capitals have this ongoing feud. Usually the two teams mix it up and play a rough and tumble game. Wednesday night, however, both teams decided to play an exciting brand of hockey and the net result was a 2-2 tie.

Richard Zednik has glorious chance to score in overtime, but Sabres defenseman Dmitri Kalinin (45) and goalie Martin Biron get their sticks in the way to prevent the goal.
[AP Photo/Nick Wass]

Martin Biron started his first game in goal for weeks and did a stellar job in keeping the Capitals off the scoreboard in the first period. After Chris Simon and Sergei Gonchar scored two straight goals 3 minutes apart in the second period, he blanked Washington the rest of the way. Biron made 30 saves and clearly was the first star of the game. Erik Rasmussen scored the first goal of the game and Miroslav Satan netted the tying goal 5 minutes into the third period and that capped off the scoring.

Biron looked especially sharp in the first period when he made twelve saves. It wasn't until the Sabres got into penalty trouble in the second that the Caps were able to capitalize. Eight seconds after James Patrick returned from a slashing penalty, Chris Simon broke Biron's shutout string at the 6:18 mark after being set up by Dmitri Khristich. The Sabres were handed another penalty under two minutes later when J.P. Dumont was also given a slashing penalty. This time Sergei Gonchar's blast from the blue line got behind Biron and the Caps suddenly had the lead.

Satan's tally

Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig (37) and Dmitri Mironov try to prevent J.P. Dumont from scoring in the second period.
[AP Photo/Nick Wass]

Olaf Kolzig always seems to play his best game against Dominik Hasek. With Hasek on the bench, the Sabres were able to get a couple past Olie the Goalie. The big goal was Satan's tally 5:23 into 3rd period. Dumont went behind Kolzig and passed the puck right in front to Satan, who rammed it home. It was Satan's 9th goal of the season and maybe it will jumpstart his scoring again, which has been M.I.A. for long stretches this season.

Erik Rasmussen scored the Sabres first goal when Denis Hamel got in front of Kolzig, causing a screen. Rasmussen slammed home a rebound from right out in front of Kolzig. It was the Razman's 6th goal of the season.

"Rob (Ray) just whacked it at the net," said Rasmussen. "I took a stride and I just whacked it. It might have went off Denis' (Hamel) skate. It was a good way to start in this building."

Capital punishment in overtime

Biron had to withstand a Capital press in overtime, as they put five shots on the Sabres backup goalie and he had to be sharp on all of them. The Caps also missed on several glorious opportunities.

Take that! Martin Biron sticks it to Caps forward Richard Zednik in the third period while Sabres' Stu Barnes and Richard Smehlik close in on the play.
[AP Photo/Nick Wass]

Trent Whitfield had Biron out of position and a wide open net staring at him, but shoveled through the cease and it slid past the far post with 1:13 remaining in the overtime. Then Calle Johansson, with only 20 ticks left on the clock, had an opening from up close, but shot wide.

"We had a lot of quality chances, and he made a lot of quality saves," said Caps coach RonWilson. "In the second period, Biron was the difference from it not being a bigger score than it was."

Biron was a surprise starter in the home-and-home series between the Sabres and the Capitals. It was expected that he would handle the game in Buffalo on Thursday and it threw Wilson off guard, as he was expecting Dominik Hasek to man the pipes.

"You get situations on the ice that you have to react to," described Biron. "I don't know who was on the ice on the one where I had to dive across (Whitfield's shot). But the one thing (Hasek) has taught me over the last two years is to never give up. I just laid my stick over there and tried to put my stick and my hand to cover as much as I could."

In the second period, the Sabres had to play shorthanded a lot, and they paid for it with one goal scored on them during a powerplay and another right after they killed a penalty. Eight penalties were called in that period and both teams had a two-man advantage situations but came up empty.

Sabres Talk

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was satisified with the tie.

"Any time you come back and tie a hockey game in the third period on the road, it's some good points for you," said Ruff . "It was a pretty tight battle."

Biron has been learning a lot watching the master in goal and now is applying it. He may be making a push for the Number 1 spot.

"I felt really good," said Biron. "It seems that game went by really quick. The puck was hitting me in the right spots. I wasn't having to make saves with my skates; I wasn't scrambling until the end."

Jay McKee likes the prospect of playing the Caps two nights in a row.

""It's a lot of fun," McKee said. "Anytime you have back-to-back games, home and home, tempers are going to flare. Guys get under guys' skin. I heard some (of our) guys tonight saying they're going after some of their guys. That's what happens in back-to-back games."

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