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Sabres Central

Sabres shock Sens in OT
By Rick Anderson
February 9, 2002

The Senators' Todd White tries to beat Sabres forward Jay McKee for the puck in first period action between the Sabres and Senators. Buffalo won in overtime 3-2.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

It was a dramatic ending to a wild and Woolley game. Jason Woolley scored the game winner with only 38.8 ticks left on the clock in overtime as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Woolley just happened to be at the right place at the right time as he batted in the rebound of a Stu Barnes shot to give the Sabres a crucial two points in the playoff race.

When the Sabres and Senators get together, one can always expect a low-scoring, but entertaining game. That's just what the 18,104 fans saw in Buffalo's HSBC Arena on Friday night. This one had plenty of action and the flow of the game provided tons of excitement.

Woolley just happened to be standing to the left of Senators' goalie Patrick Lalime when Barnes put a shot on goal. The puck was stopped but went right to Woolley in the left faceoff circle and he lifted it up over the sprawling Lalime and it went top shelf to give the Sabres the dramatic overtime victory.

"I had to look at the open net, but at the same time I had to make sure the puck sat down. And, sure enough, it didn't," Woolley explained. "It's a play where I have to go back door. I'm doing no good standing back at the point. I was hungry. We wanted to get those two points."

Woolley actually took much of the blame for the Senators opening goal. During his first shift on the ice, Chris Neil got through Woolley's check and scored from the slot area only 3:54 into the game.

"It's tough sometimes," admitted Woolley about Neil's first strike. "The first shift you step on and get scored on. But you can't get down on yourself. It's not always going to be an easy night for you. I'm glad I kept battling because it paid off."

Woolley also got robbed by Lalime earlier in the overtime when the Sens goalie made a sensational glove save. But Woolley was persistent and that paid off in the end.

The Sabres had battled back from an early 1-0 deficit to take a 2-1 lead after two periods.

After Neil's goal, the Sabres tied it up at the 7 minute mark of the second stanza when Erik Rasmussen picked off a Sami Salo pass and blasted it past Lalime. At that point, the two teams were playing 4 a side as both had men in the penalty box. Maxim Afinogenov, who had been sent to the box earlier for goaltender interference, came out while Daniel Alfredsson still had 1:03 remaining in his penalty. So the Sabres almost immediately went on the powerplay after Rasmussen's goal.

Senators goalie Patrick Lalime dives in vain as Sabres forward Jason Woolley (out of picture) lifts the puck high over the Sens goalie for the winning goal in overtime. The Senators' 6'-9" defenseman Zdeno Chara (3) and Sabres' Taylor Pyatt battle out in front.br>
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

Miroslav Satan, who immediately departed for the Winter Olympic games in Salt Lake City after the game, was Johnny-on-the-spot when Tim Connolly pushed the puck along the goal line and Lalime made the stop. However, the Sens goalie couldn't hold the puck and it dropped right onto Satan's stick and he wacked it in for the Sabres to grab the lead for the first time.

Martin Biron, who has become much more consistent than earlier in the year, made 18 saves against the Sens. However, one shot he wished he could have back was 2:04 into the final period when Magnus Arvedson got a shot right off the faceoff past Biron. The Sabres No. 1 goalie made some great stops throughout the game and looks to be well over the early season funk that had many Sabres fans doubting if he could ever replace the departed Dominik Hasek.

The Sabres, who had two consecutive 2-2 ties to Boston and Carolina, appeared well on their way to their third straight 2-all draw when the game went into overtime. However, Woolley was able to overcome his early game mistake to get the Sabres the needed two points.

Woolley's overtime goal was the Sabres second powerplay goal of the game. J.P. Dumont was taken down by the Sens' Mike Fisher when Dumont broke down on Lalime on a breakaway. The fans were screaming for a penalty shot, but the Sabres got the man advantage instead. As it turned out, that was the best scenario as Woolley capitalized on the big rebound off Barnes' shot.

"You really don't get many four-on-threes," Barnes said about the rare overtime powerplay. "It's a must-score situation."

Satan embarks on a trip from Hell

Satan boarded Sabres owner John Rigas' personal jet to fly to Wyoming on his whirlwind trip to Salt Lake City. Because small planes have been banned from the Salt Lake City airport because of security reasons, Satan had to fly to the closest airport, which happened to be in Wyoming. From there, he had a long car drive to the Olympic site. His Slovakia team plays Germany on Saturday in the qualifying-round of the Olympic action. Immediately after that game, Satan would travel back to New Jersey so he could join the Sabres for their home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils on Sunday and Tuesday. Satan, who scored the Sabres second goal, will be one mighty tired athlete when the final horns sounds Monday night in New Jersey.

Sabres Talk

Woolley knew the Sabres had a lot of chances earlier to put the Sens away.

"I'll tell you what: We had some chances," said Woolley. "I thought I had Gratton late in the game there, which is frustrating for both Grats and I. You always want to be the difference."

Lalime made 22 saves and stonewalled the Sabres on many occasions. However, he felt the Sens were lucky to come out of Buffalo with a point.

"There's always a period in which we don't play our best," admitted Lalime. "Sometimes it costs us. We were lucky to come back tonight."

Arvedson, who tied the game with a third period goal, also took the point and ran with it.

"We can play much better," said Arvedson. "After how that game looked, we should be happy with one point."

The Sabres were satisfied with their two points, but still know they are in a deep hole in their attempt to make the playoffs.

"We're tentatively happy about it," commented Barnes. "It would be real easy to get caught up now, saying 'Oh five in a row.' I think the big thing is making sure we stay focused."

One good thing to come out of the victory was the resurrection of the Sabres powerplay.

"Everybody can lay off the power play because we got two tonight," said Rasmussen.

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