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Sabres Central

Streaking Oilers smother Sabres 4-0
By Rick Anderson
March 10, 2001

After being handed their heads on a platter by the Edmonton Oilers, the Buffalo Sabres may just be ready for a blockbuster trade right now. The Oilers scored 3 goals in the second period and coasted to a 4-0 win over the bewildered Sabres.

To put the Oilers great success in Buffalo in perspective, Edmonton hasn't lost in Buffalo since before hockey was even played in the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. They have compiled a 4-0-1 record the last five times the teams have squared off. According to records, the Oilers last lost in Buffalo on October 18, 1995, in the now-abandoned Memorial Auditorium.

Tommy Salo, who recorded his second straight shutout, blocks a shot by Sabres defenseman James Patrick, while Oilers defenseman Jason Smith gets ready to pounce on the rebound. The Oilers shutout the Sabres 4-0.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel)]

The Oilers won their 7th straight game, the first time they have done so since the days of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr. It was almost 14 years ago to this date that the Oilers had their last 7-game winning streak. Goalie Tommy Salo was spectacular in the nets, keeping the Sabres off the scoreboard as he stopped all 28 shots he faced.

"Yes, Salo made a couple big saves early in the game that I think they got a little confidence," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

It was Salo's second straight shutout in a row and his 7th of the season. Salo has been perfect for the last 149 minutes, 58 seconds.

The Sabres for some reason, decided to play the Oilers game, which is a free-skating match of open hockey. The team was forewarned about doing this by the Sabres coaching staff, but the Sabres fell prey to the Oilers all-out skating style of play and the result was an embarrassing defeat in front of another sellout crowd in HSBC Arena Friday night.

Georges Laraque, who has had great success against the Sabres in the past, both on the scoreboard and in his fights, scored twice against Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek. The other goal scorers for the Oilers were Todd Marchant and Tom Poti.

Hasek, who made some nice saves in the first period, fell apart in the second stanza while facing 15 shots by the surging Oilers. He didn't have much support in this one. The Dominator, who has been rumored in many possible trades, looked like a tired old man out there, but so did his defense. Hasek made 25 saves and after allowing 3 goals in the second period, the time appeared ripe for backup Martin Biron to come in. But Ruff stuck with the aging goalie.

"What can I say," asked Hasek. "We didn't do too much. I gave up four goals, and we didn't score. We were maybe too soft in front of the net. I gave up some rebounds. They skated better and scored goals, and we didn't."

Coming back from a successful "Road Trip from Hell" the Sabres did their usual disappearing act that usually follows any success they have on the road.

With only 3 days left until the trade deadline on Tuesday, the Sabres must make a move if they want to booster their chances in the playoffs. The way they played against the Oilers, they can use all to boost they can get.

Edmonton strikes oil!

After a scoreless first period, the Oilers struck quickly in the second period as Williamsville native Todd Marchant scored a little over a minute into the period when he scooped up a rebound and put it past Hasek.

Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek has the puck bounce off him after Oilers' Ryan Smyth took the shot during the first period as Jay McKee comes in to help on the play.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel)]

It was a big homecoming for Marchant, who had family and friends go wild with pride in celebrating his opening goal of the game.

"I get geared up watching these guys," said the Williamsville native. "It's pretty special. Any time you get a chance to play in front of your family and friends, you get a little pumped up."

It only took the Oilers 5:25 minutes to score again as Tom Poti scored his 11tho of the season. Poti finished serving a penalty and picked up the puck and split the defense, completely faking Sabres rookie defenseman Dimitri Kalinin out of his skates. As he came in on Hasek, he put a backhander past the Sabres goalie to make it 2-0.

"Kalinin got smoked, there is no hiding that," fumed Ruff. "The defense was soft down low."

Then it became the Georges Laraque Show. The tough enforcer known more for his fists than his scoring talent, scored two goals to put the Sabres away for good. Laraque scored his first of the night when he poked in a rebound 12:53 into 2nd period. The Oilers tough guy got his 10th of the season when he slammed in a rebound of Rem Murray's shot off Hasek to close the scoring 7:30 into 3rd period.

Will Regier pull the trigger again?

With the trading deadline upon us, the big question is how will Darcy Regier improve this team. The Sabres are in desperate need for some more scoring. The powerplay is in complete disarray, the goal scoring has come to a complete halt and Michael Peca is still skating at the Pepsi Center in Amherst.

There have been rumors of Peca being involved in a trade with Dallas, St. Louis, Vancouver, Edmonton and now Calgary. Whether the Sabres ever do unload their captain remains to be seen. Peca insists that he will never play for the Sabres again and that hurts the Sabres position of trading him, as it puts them in a weaker position in dealing with other teams.

The next game the Sabres play, they may have a completely different face as the trade deadline is the day before. The Sabres face the Rangers on Wednesday and hopefully Regier can pull the trigger to shore up the Sabres for the playoffs., Considering the way they played against the Oilers, the current team will be lucky to win one game in the post season.

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