Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Without star players, unlikely heroes step up
Sunday, May 23, 1999

The Buffalo Sabres stole Game One of the Eastern Conference finals by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4. To top that off, they did it without the services of Dominik Hasek! It was announced right before the game that Dwayne Roloson would start the game in place of Hasek who claims to have reinjured his groin. Roloson played solid in nets, stopping 28 shots, but allowing 3 powerplay goals.

Geoff Sanderson scored the game winner, a spectacular goal that will go on the highlights. He stole the puck from Sylvain Cote and rushed down the ice with Cote with him all the way. Sanderson, taking a page from Thurman Thomas, straight-armed Cote and got in alone on Curtis Joseph. But Cote was still on Sanderson, so Geoff one-handed the puck past the Joseph for his first goal since April 3rd. It was one of the most electrifying goals for a Sabres since the days of Gil Perreault.

This was a day to throw the gorillas right off the backs of two snake-bit Sabres. Not only did Sanderson rid himself of the possessive ape that rode his shoulders all year, but Stu Barnes got rid of King Kong when he scored his first ever goal for the Sabres. Barnes got a powerplay goal top shelf where mamma hides the bananas over the left shoulder of Joseph. Barnes was so snake-bitten since coming over to the Sabres that he was going to have a snake painted on his helmet. His goal tied the game at 3-3.

For the 10th time in 11 games during this year's playoffs, the Sabres scored the game's first goal. This one was by Vaclav Varada, who took a pass from Dixon Ward and slammed it home past Joseph. Just nine second later, the Leafs roared back when Matts Sundin flipped a shot over Roloson's shoulder to tie it up. The place went wild as the "Go Leafs Go" chant took off.

Dixon Ward broke down the right side and put a slap shot past Joseph and the Sabres went into the dressing room after one with a 2-1 lead.

But things went downhill fast for the Sabres in the second when they got into taking too many penalties. They took a double penalty early in the second period as Ward and Erik Rasmussen were sent off, giving the Leafs a two man advantage. Toronto capitalized on it when Sundin put a backhander past Roloson inside the left post for his second of the game. On yet another powerplay, the Leafs were passing the puck around when Sundin got it to Berard who one-timed it through Roloson's pads to give the Leafs their first lead of the game. But then Barnes countered with his powerplay goal and the game was tied after two.

In the first quarter of the third period, Rasmussen, who continued his stellar play, pass backhanded to Curtis Brown who put the puck over Cujo's shoulder to put the Sabres back on top, this time for good.

Game One of the QEW Series was a wild one from start to finish. The Sabres came out hitting just like in the previous series. Rasmussen and Peca delivered their usual open ice hits. The defense contributed with physical play of their own. The Sabres were able to get a lot of shot up high on Joseph, ones he had a hard time handling. In all, Cujo didn't play his usual stellar game. He look shaky on a couple of the Buffalo goals and only was able to stop 16 of the Sabres 21 shots on goal. Roloson, at the other end, did what he had to in order to preserve the win. He made one great stop when Sergei Berezin broke in alone while the Leafs were shorthanded. Rolie the Goalie made several excellent saves in the game and ended up stopping 28 of 32 shots on goal.

The Sabres didn't get any help from the referees today. They gave the Leafs 9 powerplays, while ignoring many Toronto infractions. Lindy Ruff made note of that during his post game conference. He said that Ward was elbowed in the head and put his hands up to protect himself. Don Koharski gave Ward the penalty on that one. At the same time, Rasmussen also got a cheaply called penalty giving the Leafs a two man advantage. In the first period, Rhett Warrener made a perfectly legal hip check and got called for tripping. While the Sabres were on a powerplay, Ward blatantly got tripped up and Koharski kept the whistle where the sun doesn't shine. As Ruff noted during his conference, half of the Sabres penalties were deserved. The other half weren't. Toronto certainly got the most of the calls in this one.

For the Sabres to win one in the Air Canada Centre, it gives them the home ice advantage. They won without Miro Satan and Dominik Hasek, their two top stars. Satan may play in Game Two, but the Dominator looks like he is done for the series. If that is the case, the Sabres will once again have to display their newfound scoring powers to beat the Leafs.

Buffalo 5, Toronto 4

  1st 2nd 3rd TOTAL
Buffalo 2 1 2 5
Toronto 1 2 1 4

First Period
Scoring: 1, Buffalo, Varada 4 (D Ward), 4:23. 2, Toronto, Sundin 5 (Bohonos, Markov), 4:32. 3, Buffalo, D Ward 4 (unassisted), 7:48. Penalties: Mckee, Buf (high sticking), 1:07; R Warrener, Buf (tripping), 9:09; Yushkevich, Tor (roughing), 15:18; R Warrener, Buf (tripping), 18:09.

Second Period
Scoring: 4, Toronto, Sundin 6 (power play) (B Berard, Karpovtsev), 5:47. 5, Toronto, B Berard 1 (power play) (Sundin, S Berezin), 10:30. 6, Buffalo, Barnes 1 (power play) (Zhitnik, Woolley), 14:37. Penalties: D Ward, Buf (elbowing), 4:31; Rasmussen, Buf (interference), 4:31; Valk, Tor (high sticking), 6:31; Woolley, Buf (interference), 8:36; Johnson, Tor (slashing), 8:36; Juneau, Buf ( double high sticking minor), 8:59; Karpovtsev, Tor (slashing), 14:24.

Third Period
Scoring: 7, Buffalo, Brown 5 (Rasmussen, Sanderson), 5:21. 8, Buffalo, Sanderson 1 (Rasmussen, Brown), 11:02. 9, Toronto, Thomas 5 (power play) (B Berard, Karpovtsev), 13:59. Penalties: Thomas, Tor (hooking), 0:33; D Ward, Buf (Obstr tripping), 6:17; Buffalo bench, served by Varada (too many men on the ice), 13:28.

Buffalo 6 8 7 --21


Power-play Conversions: Buf - 1 of 4, Tor - 3 of 9. Goalies: Buffalo, Roloson (32 shots, 28 saves; record: 1-0-0). Toronto, Joseph (21, 16; record: 9-4-0). A:18,800. Referees: Koharski, Shick. Linesmen: Collins, Murphy.

Sabre Sword's 3 Stars Swords of the Game

1. Geoff Sanderson and Stu Barnes - Two players who couldn't seem to put the puck in the back of the net both contributed to the Sabres victory with two spectacular goals in Game One.

2. Dwayne Roloson - It isn't easy coming in to replace the world's greatest goaltender in a playoff game at this magnitude and perform well but Rolie the Goalie came through for the Sabres, making some huge saves throughout.

3. Mats Sundin - Mats Sundin was supposed to be kept in check by Peca like Yashin and Sundin was but Sundin checked in for two goals in Game One.