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Sabres Central

Sabres give the Devils a little Hell on Ice
By Rick Anderson
November 12, 2000

The Buffalo Sabres finally got it right on the road. Playing probably their best game of the season, the Sabres trounced the Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils 4-0 in East Rutherford. Dominik Hasek posted his second straight shutout and seems to be in the groove to carry his team a long way this season.

Hasek stops one of the 23 shots he faced in posting his second straight shutout against the New Jersey Devils
[AP Photo]

Before this game, the Sabres were 1-4-1 on the road with their only win away from the HSBC Arena coming against the lowly Chicago Black Hawks. The Sabres knew that they would have a difficult time in the Continental Airlines Arena against the Devils who had lost four straight. To shutout the world champions at home is clearly a benchmark in the season so far for Buffalo.

Brodeur vs. Hasek

Martin Brodeur was a big question mark heading into Saturday night's game against the Sabres. The night before against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Brodeur had been knocked unconscious in his attempt to stop Alexsey Morozov's shot at the end of the second period. The puck went in and Brodeur fell backwards, striking the back of his head. He lost consciousness for around 20 seconds and was on the ice for minutes before finally leaving the game to get stitched up on the left side of his head.

"It was a little scary what happened last night," Brodeur said, "but I had a good night's sleep and I felt fine this morning."

Brodeur was not to be deterred and started in goal against the Sabres. Brodeur was in prime form as he turned back 15 of 16 Sabres shots in the first period and 10 more in the second. Except for Dumont's powerplay goal, which he had no chance on, Brodeur was stonewalling Buffalo in the first two periods. But then in the third period, Brodeur was tagged with goals by Dave Andreychuk, Rhett Warrener and Maxim Afinogenov.

Brodeur's counterpart, Hasek was up for the goalie duel. The Dominator always enjoyed playing against Brodeur, one of the best goalies this past decade. Hasek play was stellar in the crease and he matched Brodeur's exceptional saves with his own. Overall, Hasek made 23 saves in posting his second straight shutout. However, he did use some of his nonattached equipment is posting his second shutout. They say that goalposts are part of a goalie's equipment and Hasek used those posts at least 4 times during the game.

"It's nice to get a second shutout in a row," acknowledged Hasek. "I was a couple of times, lucky."

The Sabres dominated the second period until the last two minutes. Then the Devils turned it completely around and put intense pressure on Dominik Hasek. Then at the 18:26 mark, Jay McKee took an interference penalty and the Devils really put the heat on Hasek. He made several outstanding saves in preserving the 1-0 lead. In the third period, Hasek made 5 stops and skated away with his second shutout in two games.

"We've been playing really well at home, but on the road we've had some problems," admitted Hasek who recorded his 47th career NHL shutout. "Today it was completely different. We played a very disciplined game. We backchecked really hard. We were the better team right from the beginning."

The Forgotten Man

The forgotten player in the Gilmour for Grosek trade, J.P. Dumont continues to pay big dividends for being the "throw-in" in that trade. The Sabres powerplay continues to produce and Dumont is a big reason for that.

While the Sabres had the man advantage late in the first period, Dumont was having a pushing battle with Ken Daneyko in front of Martin Brodeur. Dumont pushed off on the defenseman and struggled to regain his balance. Suddenly Miroslav Satan threaded a perfect pass to Dumont who was all alone to the right of Brodeur. Dumont blasted it home to crack the goose egg. With J.P.'s powerplay goal, the Sabres now have 14 powerplay goals in 14 games. Quite a difference from last year when they were dead last in the league.

"I feel pretty good on the ice, especially with my teammates," said Dumont, who had a three-point night when he added assists on the next two Sabres goals. "I had a huge goal at the end of the first period. It gave us some momentum."

Big Dave

Dave Andreychuk decided to use his former team as a stepping stone to a new career high. Only a minute into the third period, Andreychuk flew down left wing, skated past a Daneyko, veered right and went in all alone between the two faceoff circles. Andreychuck launched a wrist shot that went past his former teammate's skate just inside the left post to give the Sabres a commanding 2-0 lead. That goal gave Big Dave 557 career NHL goals, lifting him past the great Johnny Bucyk into the 15th slot of all-time NHL career goal scorers. Andreychuk has now moved into the No. 3 spot for career goals by a left wing, and is behind only Bobby Hull and Luc Robitaille. It was also Andreychuk's 5th of the season, tying him with Dumont for the team lead in that department.

"That was a huge goal by Dave," proclaimed Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "Erik (Rasmussen) backed the defense off by going to the net. Andy's still got the hands and got the odd move, and it was a great shot."

Mad Max

Maxim Afinogenov was foiled earlier in the game by Brodeur when he broke in alone on the veteran goaltender at 5:23 of the third period and Brodeur made a sprawling save while on his back. This time, the young Russian was not going to be denied. As Afinogenov stormed in on Brodeur, the goalie went sprawling on his stomach and Afinogenov lifted it over the goalie and into the net. This may be the turning point in a season which has been frustrating for Afinogenov. Having scored only once previously, this goal may instill some confidence and energy into the Sabres 3rd round draft choice in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Last year, Maxim burst into the NHL scene with flare and charisma. He scored 16 goals and had 18 assists last year and looked to improve immensely on that in his sophomore year. However, things were not going that well for Afinogenov this season. He did have 8 total points going into Saturday's game, but you could tell he was frustrated by his lack of scoring. The former star of the Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Elite League, played with Team Russia at the World Junior Championships three times and was named the top forward in 1999. His goal in the 1997 tournament won Russia the gold medal. This season has been like a bad dream to Maxim. Maybe his goal against Brodeur will revitalize his spirit and allow him to dominate the game as he someday will.

Sabres Talk

Not only have the Devils lost 4 straight, but are winless in their last six. They are now tied with the Islanders, the Sabres last shutout victims.

"They don't look the same as last year," said Hasek, giving the Devils a little jab. "It's 82 games and every team gets into slumps. Maybe for them, it comes at the beginning of the year."

Rhett Warrener scored his first of the season in the third period on a slap shot that practically put the Devils away for good in the game.

"It's been a long time," Warrener said about his goal. "I thought the real good thing was how we played. At the start, we came out and worked hard and got the effort from everyone. We played pretty well. We had a road trip early on in the year where we didn't have much effort or results and I think that set us back a little bit. Since then, the guys have really come together and worked hard. We're starting to see some results - Doms player real well, my partner (Jay McKee) is playing really well and I think everyone is starting to have some fun."

"I think we've got a real good team. We can start any four lines and see good results. It starts with our work ethnic, and if that's there we know that we have the skill and the desire to get things done. If we continue to do that and have guys like Gilmour and Andreychuk lead the way then we're going to be a team to watch."

Vaclav Varada, who was an intimidating factor all night against the Devils, gets in Martin Broduer's face during first period action.
[AP Photo]

Devils coach Larry Robinson, who took over the team late last year and steered them to the Cup said, "They're the ones who have to pull themselves out of it. The best thing they can do is take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing all they are capable of doing."

"I don't know what else to tell them," the bedeviled coach continued. "I can't skate for them, I can't shoot a puck for them. I can give and take away ice time for effort, but that's the only thing I have control over."

"We won with the people in this room early, and we're not playing like that now," Scott Stevens said.

"You can blame posts, you can blame it on a lot of things," said Devils rookie defenseman Colin White. "But we're in a situation now where the blame is on us."

"It's not a fun place to be right now," White went. "We're in a slump and it's getting bigger every game. We're all pointing fingers and you can't do that. We'll go to the rink [today] and see if we can't straighten this out. It has to be dealt with, now."

Hasek was happy when Dumont scored his powerplay goal in the first period.

"For us, it was important that we scored the first goal," Hasek said about getting the early lead on the Devils. "You don't want to fall behind them because it is very hard to come back on them."

Brodeur made the determination that he was going to play when he played some hockey with his kids earlier in the day.

"I had a little bit of a headache (during the day), but not much. I played hockey with my kids in the basement and I felt OK," Brodeur said.

When asked if he suffered a concussion against Pittsburgh, he replied, "I don't know, I've never had one. They (team doctors) didn't seem too worried about it. I blacked out, but everything came back to me eventually."

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