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Sabres one more win from another trip to East Finals
Friday, May 14, 1999

The hunt was on and the Bear was killed by the mighty sword. That accurately describes what happened on Marine Midland ice tonight as the Buffalo Sabres trounced the Boston Bruins 3-0 in what was absolutely the best game the Sabres have played all season. In the past two Buffalo wins, the Sabres could only generate one good period of play. Tonight, however, was complete dominance. Right from the get-go, the Sabres were all over the Bruins like bees on a honey bear! There was no doubt what the outcome of this game was going to be. If it were not for Bryon Dafoe, the Sabres could have easily had a 6-0 lead after one period of play.

When you talk dominance and the Sabres in one sentence, the main topic is usually Dominik Hasek. But in this one, Hasek played a secondary role. The team really rose to the occasion for this decisive game. All the players knew that if they could win this game, the series was almost in the bag. The first period was a continuation of the third period of Game 3. Buffalo completely outshot the Bruins in period one, but Dafoe was on a mission tonight. He was determined to steal the show. And that he almost did. The Sabres peppered Dafoe with 16 shots on goal and had nothing to show for it after one period. The way the game was panning out, it was looking like a 7-period scoreless marathon.

But in the second period, the Sabres got a two man advantage and finally Alexei Zhitnik got one past Dafoe to put the Sabres on the board. The Sabres put it almost out of reach when Vaclav Varada broke down the right side and scored on a power drive with only 17 seconds left in the period. Going into the dressing room up 2-0, the Sabres got a well-deserved standing ovation. It was Friday night party time in Buffalo - and the place was really rocking!

Dominik Hasek, while having to face only 24 shots, still made some great saves in preserving his fifth career playoff shutout. One time on a breakaway in the first period, he came almost all the way out to the blue line to break up the play. The puck got behind him and the Bruins almost scored on it, but the Buffalo defense covered up. The Dominator did make several of his patented saves tonight and was appreciative of the support he got from his teammates. He was playing with a bruised knee and the defense limited the Bruins to only 24 shots helped make life easier for Dominik.

In the third period, the Sabres were killing off another penalty and doing it in fine fashion. Zhitnik cleared the puck off the glass (some observers say the puck hit a Sabre on the bench and went back into play) right to Mike Peca who dashed down on Dafoe on a breakaway. Peca's shot beat Dafoe to put the Sabres on top 3-0 and the fans started their chant "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!"

The game the Sabres played tonight is what any avid Sabre fan has been clamoring for the entire season. They have seen this team for brief occasions, but not for long stretches. During the prolonged slump from January to March, the team never showed the intensity they showed tonight. Right now, the Sabres are the hottest team in the playoffs and have the momentum to carry them to the finals.

Buffalo goes back to Boston for Game 5 this Sunday at 2 PM. They will attempt to finish off the wounded Bears once and for all!

See video of Zhitnik's goal in 2nd period