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Sabres Central

Sabres pour on the Heinze to beat Rangers
By Rick Anderson
March 15, 2001

Steve Heinze made a stunning debut as a Buffalo Sabre as he scored on his first shot on goal. The Sabres scored 5 more goals on Guy Hebert as Buffalo beat the New York Rangers 6-3 Wednesday night in HSBC Arena. Heinze was named the game's first star as he also got an assist on the last goal of the game, an empty-netter by Vaclav Varada.

Sabres defenseman Jay McKee reacts to having a stick hit him in the chin by the Rangers' Jan Hlavac during the second period of the Sabres 6-3 win over the Rangers.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

Heinze came to Buffalo a day earlier as the Sabres dealt a third-round draft choice for Heinze.

"It's nice to get that one out of the way, and then I could just play after that. I was a little nervous getting out there," commented Heinze. "They brought me in here to do a job and help the team win the game, so hopefully that continues."

The Sabres suddenly found their long lost art of scoring as they netted 6 all told. J.P. Dumont got two goals, while Dave Andreychuk , Chris Gratton and Vaclav Varada got the other goals.

Heinze opened the scoring 5:60 into the first period, followed by Radek Dvorak's goal to tie it up. Then the Sabres exploded for 3 goals in the second stanza.

Andreychuk deflected a Rob Ray shot to put the Sabres in the lead for good. Then Dumont got a shot past Herbert on the short side. while the Sabres had a powerplay. Gratton added another powerplay goal and the Sabres suddenly had a 4-1 lead.

Former Sabre Michael Grosek got the Rangers back into the game when he too scored a powerplay goal 10:50 into 3rd period to make it 4-2. The Sabres got that one back 6 minutes later when Dumont notched his second of the game and his 23rd of the season.

The Rangers went on a powerplay late in the game and Kim Johnsson scored to make it 5-3 18:54 into 3rd period, and the Rangers then pulled Herbert in favor of the extra attacker. That's when Heinze ensured the victory when he stole the puck and fed it to Varada who scored into the empty net for his 10th of the year.

Power Surge

The Sabres offense suddenly seemed rejuvenated with the addition of Heinze. On Saturday, Donald Audette, the former Sabre who was dealt to the LA Kings for a second round choice a few years ago, rejoins the Sabres after serving out a two-game suspension. The trade that brings Audette back to Buffalo couldn't be any more ironic when looked at in the light of the Peca holdout. With Regier bringing back the former Sabre scoring ace, it is almost like he admits to making a mistake in letting Audette go in the first place. When Audette takes the ice against the Caps Saturday, it will complete the circle of irony.

The Sabres scoring 6 goals Wednesday adds fuel to the fire that the team needed a little spark to get going again offensively. Heinze lit the fuse that helped produce 6 goals. Buffalo also scored two powerplay goals. When Audette makes his return in a Sabres uniform, it is hoped by the Sabres management that the two new acquisitions will help get the offense exploding with more consistency throughout the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs.

After seeing Heinze score on his first shot on goal, Audette quipped from the press box, "I guess now the pressure's on me."

"We're not going to score six goals every night," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff . "But I think you can see with a little more offense your gifted offensive players, you don't need all your chances to score. Those two guys should lift other guys."

Sabres Talk

It was a record night for the Rangers Mark Messier, who got his 1,711th NHL point on Radek Dvorak s first-period goal , which put him in a tie for forth on the all-time list with Alex Delvecchio.

"I never really considered myself a pure goal-scorer, a real point getter," said Messier. "Coming into the league, everything was based on winning and helping the team win. I guess at this point, it's really surprising to me. ... It's nice while it lasts, but I don't think it's going to last that long, actually."

Heinze decided to drive the entire distance from Columbus to Buffalo in his Jeep Cherokee when he learned that he was traded to the Sabres. It took him 5 hours to do the trek.

"I had a long drive, and that's mostly what I was telling myself," said Heinze. "Just don't think about anything. Just play well."

Heinze did what a lot of new Sabres do on their first shift with the team, score on their first shot on goal. It has happened to quite a few rookies and players traded to the Sabres.

"I can score goals in this league, but I really didn't expect to do it on my first shot on net," commented Heinze "That was a nice bonus."

"It makes it a lot easier when you're getting passes on the tape and you can give and go and you know you're guy's going to look for you and find you out there on the ice," Heinze continued. "It makes it a lot (more fun) and easier to play."

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