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Sabres Central

Atlanta Thrashed!
By Rick Anderson
November 9, 2001

The Sabres' Martin Biron moves to his left to stop the Thrashers' Shean Donovan during the second stanza in his first shutout of the season.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

The Buffalo Sabres had a point to prove. On Thursday night before the smallest crowd at HSBC Arena in years, 13,249, the Sabres thrashed the Atlanta Thrashers 8-0. Speak about getting revenge! The Sabres vowed to extract some vengeance for their season opening 2-1 loss to the Thrashers.

Anyone with a pretty good memory can recall the last time the Sabres won by a score of 8-0. It was the deciding game of the first round playoffs between Buffalo and Philadelphia and the Sabres sent the Flyers packing for an early golfing season with a duplicate 8-0 thrashing. The only problem the Sabres have when they set off a lot of fireworks in a game is that they wish they had a couple left over for the following game. The Sabres opened the second round shooting blanks as Johan Hedberg shut them down and Pittsburgh recorded a 3-0 victory. In fact, it took 94 minutes and 44 seconds before the Sabres finally got the puck behind the rookie Penguins goalie Johan Hedberg, and they lost their second straight playoff game after that 8-0 romp over the Flyers. So beating Atlanta by the exact same score may be an ominous sign for the Sabres.

Big third period does in Ice Birds

The Sabres pecked away at the Ice Birds. Eric Bolton got his first of the season when he got a rebound of a James Patrick shot and put it past Atlanta goalie Milan Hnilicka to score the winning goal. The goal came at 16:08 of the first period.

Vaclav Varada goes in on a breakaway but Thrashers' goalie Milan Hnilicka makes the save this time. He allowed 6 goals before being replaced in the third period.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

"After Eric scored we kind of loosened up," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "He's got good size to him and that line added a little dimension."

The Sabres struck for two more in the second stanza with Miroslav Satan netting his 6th of the season and J.P. Dumont notching his 4th to make it 3-0 Buffalo. Then the roof fell in on the Thrashers. Hnilicka probably had nightmares Thursday night, dreaming of being bombarded by rubber bullets.

"One-nothing is terrible,"Thrashers coach Curt Fraser said . "Eight-nothing is real tough to swallow. It's no fun for any of us to be going through."

Curtis Brown scored the first of his two goals in the final period just 52 seconds in. Twenty two seconds later, Stu Barnes scored his 6th of the season to make it 5-0 Buffalo. Chris Gratton netted his 3rd of the season to make it 6-0 and Hnilicka, after allowing 6 on 34 shots, was replaced with Damian Rhodes, who was beaten by Brown and Maxim Afinogenov to close the scoring at 8.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was obviously pleased with his team's performance.

"It was solid from start to finish," said Ruff. "We just kept going at it. There was really no secret to it. I thought a lot of the goals we flat-out outworked them down low."

Biron's first goose egg

Martin Biron, who has come oh so close to recording at least 3 shutouts this season, only to have them foiled in the last minutes of the game, finally got his first whitewash of the season. Biron only had to make 16 saves and it probably was his easiest game of the season.

With the score 8-0, Biron almost lost his shutout bid when Hnat Domenichelli took a wicked slap shot from the left faceoff circle that Biron snared with under a half minute to play. Biron was his usual talkative self after the game.

"We had our fun and we got our eight goals, but to see guys on the faceoff with 20 seconds left, they were focused and knew where to go," said Biron. "There was not one guy who missed an assignment. The little things like that are what make you succeed."

After scoring 8 goals in a game, it is hoped that the Sabres won't follow the same path they took the last time they scored 8 in one game when they were shutout the next game. Saturday they host the New York Rangers and they would like to net at least 3 against that high powered offensive machine.

Sabres Talk

After the brutal Thrashing, Thrashers' coach Fraser was down in the dumps.

"We looked like a very, very tired hockey club, and that's a desperate team down there," said Fraser motioning to the Sabres. "They're trying to turn things around. It was their night.

"Boulton scored that fluke goal, and it was enough to get them going, It was enough to turn us the other way. We didn't need anything bad happening. We needed to buy more time to get going, and it didn't happen."

Meanwhile, the Sabres were counting their blessings, eight of them to be precise.

"We got back on the winning track in a big way," said Brown. "There weren't many mistakes to talk about. It was a huge step for us in the right direction. Everything went our way, and nothing went their way."

Sabres captain Stu Barnes had a lot to say about the new-found offense.

"There's been a lot of talk in this room how we can't score and can't generate offense," said Barnes . "Guys played strong to the end. We made sure we came out at the beginning of the third period to play hard all the way through."

"It all goes back to effort. We skated hard, we didn't get fancy, we kept getting pucks deep. Obviously, you're not going to go out and score eight goals every night, but it's good to see the effort from all parts of the game."

Ruff could sense the Sabres were enjoying their selves on the ice with the big lead.

"We play so many one-goal games that every mistake means something and you start losing games on a mistake here and a mistake there," Ruff said. "You can see that after we got three or four that they were just going to have fun with it."

Biron was happy getting the best seat in the house to watch all the fireworks.

"Just looking at them flying out there kept me in the game," Biron said. "I was the biggest fan out there."

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