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Sabres Central

Satan gives Devils a hellish night
By Rick Anderson
February 18, 2001

Dominik Hasek, although he loses his stick, makes a great save by Devils right winger Pierre Dagenais, who scored the Devils only goal of the game on his first shot ever in the NHL.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

The sleeping giant has stirred. The Buffalo Sabres suddenly woke up and played their best game of the season beating the Stanley Cup defending champion New Jersey Devils 5-1. Not only that, but a fiendish goal scorer has also been aroused and is suddenly scoring with a devilish hand. Miroslav Satan, who has not had a very good year up until last week, is suddenly hotter than Mephistopheles. In the last five games, Satan has scored five goals and added 5 more assists.

The Sabres have been giving the Devils hell all this season and into last year also. Buffalo has outscored the Devils 14-3 in its three victories over the Stanley Cup champs during the current campaign. In the last 5 games, the Sabres have won all of them, outscoring the Devils 22-5. The big question is why can't Buffalo get this pumped for Atlanta, Columbus, Montreal, Florida and Tampa, all whom they lost to recently?

A Ghoulish Night for the Devils

Martin Brodeur never knew what hit him. He was chased from the nets after the Sabres had scored 4 goals 13:27 into the 2nd period.

Brodeur, who in his last six starts has lost 3 and tied 3, giving up 21 goals, wanted to be pulled out of the game even earlier.

Maxim Afinogenov, who scored against the New Jersey Devils, tries to sweep around Devils defenseman Scott Stevens during the first period.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

"I thought, maybe after the third goal, the way that it came about, that they would say, 'We might as well rest him,"' admitted Brodeur. "I felt kind good about it. The way the third one went in, I knew it was time to get me out."

Brodeur wasn't alone in a Devilish Devils night. The whole team did not support him and could only muster one goal against Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek.

"Well, we shot ourselves in the foot," said Devils coach Larry Robinson. "I don't care who you have (in net). You can't blame the goaltender for people playing poorly in front of you."

After the Sabres appeared to score first in the game early in the first period, the video judge ruled that Stu Barnes had knocked the puck with his hand into the crease, where it glanced off Brodeur's skate and into the net. The Devils responded to that break by taking their only lead in the game when Pierre Dagenais, who was playing in his first NHL game, scored a powerplay goal on his first NHL shot. That's all she wrote for the Devils. From there, the fell into the bottomless pit.

While the Devils had another powerplay and were looking to put the Sabres away for good, Brian Rafalski coughed up the puck and slipped to the ice in the process, allowing the Sabres' Devilman to fly down the ice in a heated frenzy with Curtis Brown to his left. With those two roaring down on Scott Stevens, Satan put a snap shot past Brodeur and the heat was on the Devils goalie. It would be fire and brimstone the rest of the way for Brodeur.

Rob Ray, of all players, eventually got the game winner when he was fed by Brown all alone in front of Brodeur. Ray made no mistake in the slot area and he slammed it past the hapless Brodeur to give the Sabres the lead for good 3:31 into the second stanza.

It was another Rafalski giveaway, this time to Maxim Afinogenov, that led to Satan's second tally of the night. Afinogenov threaded the needle to Satan all alone in front of the baffled Brodeur to make it 3-1 Sabres.

Satan returned the favor to Afinogenov when he set Maxim up for his 13th goal of the season. After receiving Satan's perfect pass, Afinogenov put a shot five-hole to put the Sabres up 4-1 and finish Brodeur for the night.

Jason Woolley closed the scoring when he scored a powerplay goal 14:25 into 3rd period. Once again, Satan assisted on the play.

Satan torments the Devils

Satan stuck the fork into the Devils twice in this game, adding another two assists. He has become the hottest hand on the ice for the Sabres as of late.

Since being benched for his coughing up the puck that started the Atlanta Thrashers on their way to scoring the first goal last Tuesday, Satan has been playing like, well, the Devil himself. He is hotter than hot. His blades are sizzling the ice and his wicked shot is scorching every goalie he faces.

His four point night against the Devils only highlights the fact that Sabres coach Lindy Ruff's benching lit a fire under his skates.

"He's definitely caught on fire," said Ruff about Satan who has 6 goals and 6 assists in 7 games. "Miro is a streaky goal scorer that when he does start scoring he can run six, seven or eight games and score 11 or 12 goals. I think there's been a little bit more tenacity in his game. I think it sent a message throughout the team, not just Miro, that you can take your leading goal-scorer, sit him down, it can happen to anybody."

Hasek, who has to face him in practice all the time, knows that Satan is the man who has to catch fire if the Sabres are going to any chance of catching first place Ottawa, who they face Monday at the HSBC Arena.

"We know he can score goals and we know he has great hands and a great shot," commented Hasek, who made 32 saves in the victory. "He's our best goal scorer, no doubt, and we need him to score goals like that, and all of sudden the game is easier for the whole team."

Another reason for Satan's hot hand could be the placement of Maxim Afinogenov, who also has been on fire the past week. When J.P. Dumont went out of the lineup with a pulled rib muscle, Ruff inserted Maxim and has gotten maximum results. In their two games together on the same line, Satan and Afinogenov have combined for 5 goals and 5 assists. Afinogenov had a goal and an assist against the Devils.

Sabres Talk

Talking about his hot streak, Satan is as puzzled as most experts.

Sabres defenseman Dmitri Kalinin goes flying through the air after being checked by Devils center Sergei Brylin in the third period.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

"You can't put a finger on it," Satan said. "One time, everything you shoot is going in, and another time you can have five shots in a game and you won't put anything in the net."

Satan does want to keep his goal scoring alive through the rest of the season. He wants to be the go-to-guy when the Sabres need a goal.

"I want the responsibility,"said Satan. "I would like to be The Guy on the ice. I would like to play as much as I can take and help the team. I want that role. I love that kind of role."

What's the reason for the Sabres great success against the World Champion Devils?

"We respect the New Jersey Devils very much," said Woolley. "Usually when we come out respecting the other team, we play pretty well. Guys prepare all day to bring their A game. Most of the nights we play against these guys, everyone pulls their weight."

Ruff was overjoyed with the big win.

"Let's call a spade a spade," Ruff said. "It was a huge win for us, (but) they had some key players out and you can't overlook that. That was nowhere near their strongest lineup, but we found a way to win it."

Ruff has also been pleased with Mad Max's performance as of late. He had scored back-to-back overtime winning goals last week and is still on a torrid pace.

"Max, I think there's signs, that he's becoming more of a complete player," said Ruff. "He's using other players and still has the opportunity to score the highlight reel goals."


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