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Sabres Central

Audette sparks Sabres against Thrashers
By Rick Anderson
March 26, 2001

Sabres forward Donald Audette, is able to score his first goal as a Sabre against his former Atlanta Thrasher team as he slides along with the puck and it goes past Thrashers goaltender Milan Hnilicka for the first and winning goal of the game. The Sabres went on to beat the Thrashers 4-0.
[AP Photo/Gregory Smith]

It was homecoming night for Donald Audette. Audette was returning home to Atlanta for the first time after being traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the trading deadline. He had not scored a goal since he last wore a Thrasher uniform and his family had stayed in Atlanta, so this was the first time he had seen them since going to Buffalo on March 13th. Audette scored the Sabres first goal and helped them beat his former team 4-0.

Audette's goal was certainly not a thing of beauty. With just a minute left in the first period, Audette was fed the puck by Alexei Zhitnik and he broke in on Thrasher goalie Milan Hnilicka. As fate would have it, former linemate Ray Ferraro had no choice but to attempt to bring Audette down before he had a clean shot on Hnilicka. Audette was able to put a shot on goal, but it was stopped by Hnilicka. The former Thrasher was hauled down and slid on his stomach right into the Thrasher goalie. Somehow the puck hit Audette and his momentum forced the puck into the net. The officials went upstairs to check the legitimacy of the goal, and it was allowed to stand.

"I've had so many chances in the last four games and not scored that I'll take one of those," conceded Audette . "To get the game-winner is a good feeling. It was not a nice one, but it was a goal."

Ferraro has set up Audette plenty of times this season with Atlanta. Audette had 32 goals when he was traded and Ferraro was one of the main reasons for his success. Ferraro was more than upset with Audette's goal, as he gave him a shove after the goal.

"He definitely was not happy I scored that one," laughed Audette.

It took only 28 seconds for the Sabres to open up the game when Zhitnik blasted a shot from the right point past Hnilicka to put the Sabres up 2-0 heading into the locker room after the first period.

Satan on the rise

Miroslav Satan had not scored a goal in 12 games. To say he was in a slump is an understatement. Saturday night, he had to hustle and beat out a Carolina defensemen to the puck to score into an empty net. Monday, Satan used that as momentum builder and he scored twice against the Thrashers.

Although Steve Heinze hasn't scored since his third game with the Sabres when he had a hat trick, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff thinks that his presence along with Audette's is taking the pressure off Satan. He has been patient with the Sabres leading scorer for the past two years.

"He's been a streaky scorer throughout his career here," said Ruff. "Normally with goal scorers you get alarmed if the chances aren't there, but his chances have been there and he hasn't put them away. Once you bust that egg you got going, it takes the pressure off."

Satan was suddenly on the rise and maybe it is just in time for the Sabres stretch run into the playoffs.

While on a power play, Satan made it into the slot area and snapped up a rebound right in front of Hnilicka. Satan did not hesitate putting it behind the Thrasher goalie. Near the end of the second stanza, Satan got a pass from Chris Gratton and the Sabres Devilman got a blast that ricocheted off the back crossbar and came out quickly. The play continued, but the Sabres argued that the puck had hit inside the net and bounced out. The second video review of the night also went the Sabres way and they had a 4-0 lead going into the third period. It was Satan's 26th goal of the season.

"I thought it was another post," admitted Satan. "When I got to the bench everybody was saying it was probably in, so I was happy."

Suddenly, Satan was hot again.

"I was getting chances as usual, the only difference was I wasn't scoring goals," said Satan. "For the first 40 minutes, we basically had them stymied in their end. We didn't give them much," Ruff said. "In the first two periods, we gave up five scoring chances."

Hasek gets 10th shutout

Dominik Hasek has quietly become the top goalie in the NHL where shutouts are concerned. He made 19 saves against the Thrashers to record his 10th of the season and 55th in his illustrious career. Although Hasek had t make a few big stops, it was a relatively easy game for the Dominator.

I had maybe one tough save every period,"said Hasek. "I don't know if they played badly, or my teammates played such great hockey, but I wasn't busy at all."

The Sabres have allowed the least amount of goals in the NHL and are the tandem of Hasek and Martin Biron are in the lead for the Jennings Trophy. So far this season, the Sabres have allowed only 169 goals so far, 4 better than Dallas and 5 less than Colorado. Hasek who struggled for consistency throughout the first half of the season, is getting into his old form at the best time of the season.

Sabres Talk

Audette had his family at the game and he wanted to give them a quick present.

"It's always nice, especially here," Audette said. "A goal like that (was not a typical Audette goal) I've had so many chances in the last four games that I'll take it any way I can."

Ruff explained how Audette fought through a severe handicap to score the winning goal.

"He got a step on them, got hauled down, and he was still trying to get a stick on it when he was laying on the ice,"explained Ruff. "You make a play like that and you go that hard to the net, good things happen."

Satan was another Sabres who finally is hitting the back of the net.

"I had my confidence," said Satan. "I never lost it. It's just a better feeling when you have chances and you're able to put some in."

"I thought that was a pretty solid 60 minutes for us," Ruff put in. "For the first 40 minutes, we basically had them stymied in their end. We didn't give them much," Ruff said. "In the first two periods, we gave up five scoring chances."

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