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Sabres Central

Barnes burns Avs in overtime
By Rick Anderson
March 3, 2001

Doug Gilmour, who scored his 5th goal of the season against the Avalanche, lets the ice fly as he turns on the breaks in front of Avalanche defenseman Jon Klemm.
[AP Photo/David Zalubowski]

Stu Barnes scored the winning goal in overtime, but it was goaltender Martin Biron who stole the show in Denver as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 Saturday afternoon. It was the third straight time the Sabres have beaten the Avalanche in the Mile High city.

"This was big," exclaimed Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "Any time you get two points this time of the year, it's big. You don't expect to come west and get two points."

Biron who was average at best in his last two games came up with a very solid effort against the highest scoring NHL team this year. If it weren't for the two times that the Avs interfered with the Sabres goalie, Biron would have not allowed a goal. It came as a surprise move that Biron started this game in the first place. Hasek, who has been on top of his game recently, was given a rest so he would be fresh for Sunday's game against the Dallas Stars.

Biron faced 35 shots by the Avalanche and stopped all but two. He was thrilled to beat some of his French Canadien idols of his youth.

"I was really up," declared Biron. "Many of the guys over there were people I watched growing up in Quebec -- Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy. So I was really excited about that goal at the end. I said to myself, `Put it in the net and let's go on to Dallas.' "

"He was fabulous," lauded Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We needed Marty to come up with a big effort, and he got us one point going into overtime and then allowed us to score the winner."

"It felt good," related Biron. "I was ready for that game. I'm not playing a game to play well to get another start," he said. "I'm playing a game to get two points."

Breakaway Barnes

With the Avalanche trying to get into position to score the overtime goal, J.P. Dumont stole the puck and threaded a pass to Barnes breaking through center ice. Barnes broke in unimpeded and played the waiting game with Roy before finally flipping the puck through Roy's pads to win the game. It was Barnes 17th goal of the year and came 2:08 into the overtime.

The Sabres had taken a 2-0 lead over the Avs in the first period on goals by players who have been slumping all year, Curtis Brown and Doug Gilmour. Brown beat Roy after getting a nice pass from Vladimir Tsyplakov at the 3:28 mark. On Brown's goal, Tsyplakov gave Brown a picture perfect pass and Brown was able to beat Roy glove side.

"I think I surprised Patrick Roy a little bit," recounted Brown. "I guess against this team, you want to get up and hold the lead so you can keep them on their heels a little bit."

Then 15 minutes later, the Sabres had Roy chasing after the puck and got him out of position as Gilmour got a pass from Jason Woolley and found a gapping net in front of him. With only Ray Bourque between Gilmour and the empty net, Gilmour put a shot between the All-Star defenseman's legs to make it 2-0 Buffalo.

Avalanche storm back

The last time that Colorado had scored on the Sabres at home was way back on October 28, 1977. Finally, they got a break 9:08 into 2nd period when Ville Nieminen clearly interfered with Biron, knocking him out of position and leaving a gapping net for Peter Forsberg to score.

Nieminen rammed into Biron and took him out. Nieminen was still laying in the crease when the goal was scored. "Obviously, he got his feet knocked out from underneath him," fumed Ruff. "They dominated that period, but I didn't like the goal and I didn't like the call - it should have been goalie interference."

With less than half a minute remaining in the second period, Biron was interfered with again, but instead of the Avs getting a penalty, Barnes was called for holding. That was not what the Sabres needed against the best powerplay unit in the league as Joe Sakic scored his 37th of the season with just 4 ticks left on the clock.

In the third period, Biron shut down the Avs in stopping all ten shots he faced.

Sabres Talk

Barnes knew that he couldn't miss this huge opportunity to win the game when he was bearing down on Roy. He also knew that if the Sabres won this game, they would be ahead of their goal of having a winning road trip.

"J.P. made a great play and got it out to the middle of the ice for me, and then I was on a breakaway," said Barnes. "Obviously, in overtime you want to make sure that one goes in. Anytime, you want to make sure it goes in."

"We came in here knowing we had a huge challenge ahead of us," said Barnes. "We played a great first period, let down in the second period and wanted to throw it all out there in the third period and see what happens."

Brown scored only his 7th goal of the year, but it was an important one. He described how the Avs put tremendous pressure on the Sabres in the second period.

"In the second period, we were just battling, trying to hang on," said Brown. "They kept coming wave after wave."

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