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Sabres Central

Open up the Flood Gates! Pens drown Sabres
By Rick Anderson
December 1, 2000

Ten goals were scored Friday night in a shootout at the OK HSBC Arena as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat up the Sabres 6-4. This was by no means a defensive gem. In fact, the way Lindy Ruff's blueliners played against the Pens, he may be tempted to revamp his defensive corp with callups from Rochester for the second half of the home-and-home series in Pittsburgh Saturday night.

Richard Smehlik steps in front of Jaromir Jagr to break up a pass in the third period. Pittsburgh beat the Sabres 6-4 in a shootout.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Although Dominik Hasek allowed 5 goals (the Penguins last one was an empty-netter), he made 26 saves and several of them were outstanding. Garth Snow, at the other end, also made some good saves. However, with 9 goals scored, it was not a night for goaltenders to be proud of.

In a game where there were more goals than are sometimes scored in three games with Hasek in the nets, Josef Beranek scored the most important one of them all. Beranek scored the winner 5 minutes into the third period to break the 4-4 deadlock. The only other goal came with only 10 seconds left in the game when Robert Lang scored his second goal of the game into an empty net, giving Jaromir Jagr his first point in 5 games. Only one time before had Jagr gone 4 games without recording at least one point and that was back in 1995. It took his fellow countryman, Hasek to get him out of that slump also.

"We had a goalie who was holding us in until the last couple minutes when we made two terrible plays," said Ruff. "We made enough mistakes that allowed them to score."

Talking about Hasek's play, Ruff said, "There's a couple he'd probably want back, but there was a couple he couldn't have done anything about. It was strange in a sense with those big saves that there were a couple that got through."

Barn Burner

Eight goals in two periods is great for fans attending the game, but there were enough defensive lapses for three games. This game turned out to be a barn burner and neither Barnes nor Barnaby got any of the goals.

Rob Ray, playing his first game after missing 7 games with a separated shoulder, opened the scoring by putting a backhand past Garth Snow almost 14 minutes into the first period. Dominik Hasek, who made several spectacular saves earlier in the period, suddenly allowed two goals in 15 seconds as Rene Corget and Alexei Kovalev double-whammied Hasek. Kovalev shot from above the right faceoff circle and somehow beat Hasek on that shot.

Then came the second period and a total of 5 goals. Chris Gratton tied things up at 2 when he got a perfect pass from Vladimir Tsyplakov while he stood out in front of Snow. Gratton whipped a snap shot past the Penguins goalie. Robert Lang came right back and put the Pens back on top less than a minute later when he skated in and slapped it off Hasek's catching mitt and into the net.

J.P. Dumont was fed right out in front by Miroslav Satan for a one-timer and the Sabres tied it up again at 3-3. There was a period of almost 5 minutes without a goal until Kovalev got his second of the night when his slap shot trickled through Hasek's pads.

Dominik Hasek slides out in an attempt to stop Rene Corbet's shot, but the Pens winger lifts it up over Hasek for the Penguins first goal of the game.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Hasek commented on Kovalev's two goals which came from long range.

"The first one hit my stick, and went under my pad, and the same thing happened on the fourth goal," explained Hasek. "They were funny bounces, fluky goals."

"That was definitely a knuckle puck," Kovalev described his shot that went under Hasek's right arm. "When I saw that puck rolling, those pucks I never pass. I always try to let it go."

Five more minutes went past without a goal and the Sabres went on a powerplay when Roman Simicek went off for holding. Satan got his first goal with a goalie in the nets in weeks as his wrist shot beat Snow to tie it up a 4-4.

The Sabres, who were outshot 15-4 in the first period, came on a lot stronger in the second stanza, outshooting Pittsburgh 13-9.

Josef Beranek opened the scoring in the third period to put the Pens back on top 5-4.

Gilmour placed on injured reserve

Doug Gilmour has not been healthy since the Sabres acquired him in a trade with Chicago last March. First he had that Mysterious X flu that plagued him almost as soon as he landed in Buffalo and throughout the playoffs. Gilmour has been plagued with numerous injuries this season and before Friday's game, the Sabres put him on the injured reserve list.

After a summer off from all the physical abuse that is inflicted on a hockey player, Gilmour came to camp relatively healthy and raring to go. But as the regular season started, Gilmour's health went south as did his scoring touch. He suffered from a variety of ailments from a bad back, a hip pointer and now recently problems in his pelvic area. On Thursday, Gilmour went to Toronto to see a soft tissue specialist as he was getting disheartened with the burning sensation in the pelvic region. Mainly because of the discomfort he has been experiencing, the Sabres decided that it was best to put Gilmour on the IR. That also opened up a spot on the roster to reactive Rhett Warrener, who was coming back into the lineup after suffering a concussion.

Three days earlier, Gilmour underwent a magnetic resonance examination along with a bone scan of his abdomen, back and pelvis. The results revealed that there weren't any hernias or tears, but it did indicate some inflammation.

"We've seen it, if you look at last year's playoffs and even this year for a stretch, that when he's not 100 percent he doesn't have his full jump and can't quite get there," said Ruff. "For him to be effective, he has to be 90 or 100 percent."

With Michael Peca still holding out and his announcement that he was going to join Team Canada later this month, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is starting to become worried about his captain-less team. Peca will join the Canadian team for the world competition for the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. Gilmour was the "unofficial captain" for the Sabres.

"We're not going to negotiate in the media," commented Regier. "We have to do what is right for our franchise. We've said all along that we're a better team with Michael in the lineup. He does a lot of things (that are not on the score sheet) well, but we think our offer reflects that."

At the beginning of last season when Peca's game was horrendous, Curtis Brown picked up the slack and was going strong until a virus hit him (before Gilmore came to Buffalo. Since then, Brown has not been able to return to the game that had some experts talking Selke Trophy for Brown. With Brown playing sub-par all season, the Gilmour situation may put the ball back into Peca's court where the contract negotiations are concerned.

Sabres Talk

The Sabres got caught up in Pittsburgh's type of game. In other words, they fell into the trap that the Pens set up for them.

"It wasn't the type of game we wanted to play," said Gratton.. "That's not the style that gives us success,"

Ruff seems fed up with the lack of effort by his squad.

"The guys that early on aren't going to make a commitment aren't going to play," emphasized Ruff.

"They're a great offensive team. They have very skilled players," Hasek complimented the Penguins. "They like to play a wide-open game and we gave them too many chances, especially in the first period. Everyone's responsible on defense. I'm responsible, the forwards are responsible and the defense is responsible."

Over in the Penguins dressing room, the mood was upbeat.

"It was an open game and it was an up-and-down game," said Pens coach Ivan Hlinka. "I think it was a good game to watch. It was a good game for our team for sure because we'll take the two points."

"He definitely saved them in the first period," Lang credited Hasek. "It could've been a totally different game if he wasn't standing on his head, but that's what he is."

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