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Sabres Central

Biron gets ready for showdown with Hasek
By Rick Anderson
October 11, 2001

Marty Biron is ready to face his pedagogue. On Wednesday night in HSBC Arena, Biron came just a second short of two minutes from recording his first shutout of the season. The Sabres scored just enough to pull off a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers and the fact that it was Biron in goal instead of Dominik Hasek didn't seem to matter. The Sabres defense, which won the Jennings Trophy as the top defense in the league last season, put a blanket around their young goalie and the Flyers could not penetrate it until very late in the game.

Sabres goalie Martin Biron puts the breaks on the Flyers' Justin Williams during the second period. The Sabres beat the Flyers 2-1 with Biron making 26 saves.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

Biron stopped 26 shots that did manage to get through the Sabres force field and made several splendid saves. In fact, he looked quite "Dominating" in his shutting down of the Flyers' offense.

Biron was his usual effusive self after the game in describing at length just how the Sabres handcuffed the Philly team that is bursting at the seams with talent.

"A ton of blocked shots," lauded Biron about this D in front of him. "A ton of shots from the outside and not too many from the slot area. It's not that we want to send a message or anything (to Hasek), but that's the style we want to play. If we can play that style, it's going to put wins in our bag."

Simon Gagne spoiled Biron's bid for his fist shutout when he flipped the puck over Biron's right shoulder at the 18:01 mark of the final stanza. After that, the Flyers pulled their goalie, Brian Boucher for the extra attacker, but the Sabres defense and Biron were the rock of Gibraltar and the Flyers lost their first game of the young season.

The Sabres opened the scoring when their new captain, Stu Barnes, scored his third goal in four games. The goal was fluky to say the least. Barnes had the puck near the left corner when he tried to feed a pass to the man they got for Hasek, Slava Kozlov. The puck floated into the crease and glanced off Eric Desjardins' skate and into the net. The powerplay goal came at 5:32 of the first period.

"It was a lucky bounce, a very lucky bounce," admitted Barnes.

The Sabres scored the winning goal when another powerplay was in effect, the Flyers'. Miroslav Satan skated in through a pair of Flyers' defensemen and managed a shot that went top shelf over Boucher's shoulder to put the Sabres up 2-0 at the 15:34 mark of the second period.

"I missed the shot and scored a goal," said Satan. "The puck bounced and it went flying like a butterfly."

That was all the Sabres needed as their defense and Biron protected the lead and except for that late goal by Gagne.

Next in the Sabres agenda is to give their former backstop, Hasek, their gratitude for his years of Sabres service. It has been hinted that Detroit coach Scotty Bowman may decide to rest Hasek, especially in light of his allowing 4 goals in a 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames Wednesday. But if Hasek has any of the competitive juices that flowed while he was in Buffalo, you can guarantee that he will be between the pipes for a Biron vs. Hasek showdown Friday.

Sabres Talk

Biron seems to have a good handle on this current edition of the Buffalo Sabres.

Miroslav Satan gets interference from the Flyers' Jan Hlavac when Satan attempts to steal the puck from the Flyers' Chris Therien (6) during first period action.
[AP Photo/David Duprey]

"Teams will realize we have lost a little veteran leadership," Biron explained, "but we can still play the same old game we have over the last few years."

About losing a shutout bid so late in the game, Biron replied, "You don't really think about it. It's a 2-0 game, you want to keep it a 2-0 game. It's not about shutouts, it's about shutting the door and giving your team the opportunity to win."

Biron, talking a mile a minute, talked about how Satan's goal literally broke the Flyers' backs.

"It hurts a team," Biron maintained, "when you have a power play and you're down one goal and you get out there with momentum on your side. That's a back-breaker right there."

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was a little worried about the Sabres when they just had a 1-0 lead. He cited the Satan goal as a huge boost in adrenalin for the team.

"It looked like they were a little bit flat for whatever reason, maybe it was coming back into the building," said Ruff. "We skated really well, especially in the first 20 minutes."

Ruff lauded his defense for putting a protective shield around Biron.

"We collapsed a lot," he said. "Our forwards dropped in below the circles. We left our points open, but when they throw it back there the job of that forward is to get back in that shot lane."

"If Boucher didn't make some of the saves he made in the first we could have run away with it," Ruff continued. "He made some excellent saves that led to a pretty interesting game."

With Barnes being named the captain before the season started and his torrid start, the Sabres management is thinking about getting Barnes' contract done before it expires at the end of the season. Learning from their tough stance taken against the popular Michael Peca, the Sabres would look pretty foolish if they let their new captain slip away like their last one did.

"This is a situation that needs to be viewed differently," explained Sabres GM Darcy Regier. "I think there's a couple reasons for that. He's a very good character individual in a lot of regards. He stands for a lot of things you want embodied throughout the organization and throughout the players in the dressing room."

Barnes would be thrilled to get the contract settled before it runs out at season's end.

"I haven't really thought beyond this season," Barnes noted, "but if anything ever did come up, it would be great. I really enjoy it here. I love playing in Buffalo. The city is great, the people are great. My family really enjoys it. If something could be worked out it would be awesome."


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