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Sabres Central

Sabres give Lightning a shock
By Rick Anderson
November 3, 2001

The Sabres Curtis Brown attempts a backhand against Lightning goalie Kevin Weekes in first period action. Brown was able to backhand a perfect pass to J.P. Dumont for Buffalo's first goal..
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Sometimes, if you keep plugging away, things will finally go your way.

The Buffalo Sabres kept plugging away Friday night and finally got something right. They opened their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning charged up by drilling 14 shots on ‘Bolts goalie Kevin Weekes in the first period and never looking back from there. The Sabres ended their three game winning streak by beating Tampa Bay 4-1.

This was a game where the Sabres were playing against plenty of former teammates and coaches. Brian Holzinger, Matthew Barnaby, Cory Sarich and Dave Andreychuk were recent Sabres, while Grant Ledyard played for Buffalo a few years back. Then there was former Sabre player and coach Rick Dudley, who now is the team's GM, along with head coach John Tortorella, who had former Sabre great Craig Ramsay as his assistant. Last Sunday, the Buffalo Bills played Bills West when they took on plenty of former players and coaches on the San Diego Chargers. Friday night in Buffalo, it was the Florida Sabres who were doing plenty of reminiscing. Unlike the Chargers, who went away victorious, the former Sabres came away empty handed.

"Any time you play against your former teammates, you want to play well, especially on the road," articulated Holzinger.

Andreychuk, who was not offered a contract with the Sabres after he returned to his former club for a one year stint, was disappointed with the loss.

"We would have liked to play a lot better than we did," Andreychuk said. "That was a desperate hockey team on the other end and they played like it."

Even Sabres coach Lindy got into the "Sabres South" routine.

"They're kind of Buffalo South," joked Ruff. "If you want to call, in the NFL, San Diego "Buffalo West,' we've got Buffalo South in hockey here, with five or six players coming back. But the one thing that's got to stay clear in this is that when the puck drops, there's no friends."

Satan finally finds the net

Miroslav Satan broke out of his scoring slump by netting two goals (and he had a third one taken away when the official voided one). The Sabres play the Senators Saturday in Ottawa and hope to add on to their modest one-game winning streak.

Two ex-teammates meet as Brian Campbell goes against former Sabre Cory Sarich along the boards in Buffalo's 4-1 win over Tampa Bay.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

The first period saw the Sabres pepper Weekes with 11 shots to the Lightning 1 and if it weren't for some fantastic saves by Weekes, the Sabres could have blown the game wide open right then. However, Vaclav Varada took a five minute major boarding penalty, along with a game misconduct, and the Sabres had to fend off the Lightning for those 5 minutes. Tampa scored when Martin St. Louis deflected a shot from the point past Martin Biron, but that was it for Tampa Bay, who has now lost 3 straight.

Buffalo finally was able to get a shot past Weekes when Curtis Brown took the puck from behind Weekes, curled the puck around and made a swing pass that found J.P. Dumont wide open in front of Weekes. Dumont blasted it past Weekes at the 2:16 mark of the first period.

Buffalo took a 2-0 lead when Dumont's shot on Weekes stopped but Stu Barnes slammed in the rebound at the 12:57 mark of the first stanza.

That's when Varada laid out Grant Ledyard against the boards, probably in retaliation to Ledyard's drilling of Varada in a game last year that left Varada with a serious concussion. Ledyard came up bleeding from his forehead and needed stitches to close the gash.

"I kind of ran him from the blue line," admitted Varada. "I thought I would get a penalty. What can I say? I didn't really finish the last two games. It will be interesting see what they will do (if the league gives him a second suspension)."

The Sabres, who have taken leads into the third period the last three games only to lose, went into the final period with a 2-1 lead. The Sabres had to have a good pep talk during the intermission before the third period, as they came out determined to not let that happen for the fourth straight time.

This is when Satan took over and showed the offensive skills he does possess. Satan should have been credited with a natural hat trick. He scored an apparent goal a little after the first minute of the third period and the referee ruled "no goal." Maxim Afinogenov skated in behind Weekes as the puck went past him into the net. Replays show clearly that Afinogenov didn't even touch Weekes, but Terry Gregson waived it off.

"I couldn't believe that after six or seven games, finally I score a goal and they disallow it," fussed Satan, who had been shutout without a single point for seven games. "I was pretty frustrated with that and the next chance I got I shot it really hard and it finally went in."

That little setback seemed to spark Satan even more. Less than a minute later, Satan put the puck behind the goal line one more time, and this time it counted. He one-timed the puck past Weekes with a blast and the Sabres knew that this game was theirs.

"The next chance I had, I shot it hard and it went in," said Satan.

With Dumont standing in front of Weekes, Satan got his shot past Weekes and his second (or third) goal of the night at the 14:13 mark.

Biron, who had played two sub-par games before, made 26 saves in a solid effort.

"We knew that we were going to play the third period the best that we ever had," Biron said. "The guys were confident. They were talking a lot after the second. . . . We knew we were going to come out strong in the third."

Sabres Talk

The former Sabres were very disheartened with their loss to Buffalo.

"I'm really disappointed in our desperation," Tortorella said.. "Our team can't come out and just go through the motions In that first period, we just ran around and we didn't compete. We're just not generating any offense. We will not win many hockey games if we compete like that."

Satan was relieved to finally light the lamp.

"I'm just glad that I was able to help the power play and help the team,"said Satan. "It's a nice feeling to score after so many games, when I had so many chances and couldn't finish it. And today, finally, two goals went in."

Ruff was pleased with the victory.

"I thought our power play looked real good," Ruff said. "We kept at them all night."

""We have to have a little attitude in this game " said Ruff in his post game conference. "We went back to what I thought would make us successful, playing Curtis Brown against Tampa Bay's top line. That eliminated that line from the game."

"We have to take all the positives out of tonight," Ruff said. "There were a ton of positives. We have to bring that to the table."

Tampa Bay's Tim Taylor gave the Sabres their due.

"You give a team like that, especially when they've been struggling, they're going to come out with their backs against the wall,'' Taylor said. ``It gives them a lot of confidence, and this team beat us in all the one-on-one battles. They wanted the puck more than us, and you're not going to win a lot of hockey games that way."

Barnaby was not the his usual "bad boy" self, especially after the game.

It's fun coming back, playing in the city that I played in for a lot of years," said the former Sabres instigator. "To see friends and family, I think that's the most important thing and what means the most to me."

Andreychuk, who holds all sorts of scoring records for Buffalo, wanted a win badly.

"It's hard to play against guys that you battled (with) last year," Andreychuk said. "These are friends that you've had all year long, and now you're on the other side of the fence. It's tough playing in these games. I tried to make this team win last year, the best I could. And it's too bad, because I think we would have given Jersey a lot better run."


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