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Sabres Central

Sabres extinguish the Flames in OT
By Rick Anderson
November 14, 2000

What a scintillating finish! The 15,429 fans who attended the game at HSBC Arena were treated with a hard-fought game and a electrifying grande finale. The Buffalo Sabres beat the Calgary Flames in dynamic fashion as J.P. Dumont scored in overtime to beat the Flames 3-2 and the Sabres remain unbeaten at home.

Dominik makes a stop on Toni Lydman's shot while Jarome Iginla (12) rushes up on the play in the first period.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

Curtis Brown made a spectacular rush up the right side, skated towards the goal and sent a backhand pass to Jason Woolley who passed it right through the crease over to J.P. Dumont. Dumont slammed it home and the Sabres, who never led in the game had another home victory. The Sabres are now 7-0-1 at home this season.

With Doug Gilmour hinting that he's 90% sure of retirement next year, that will leave Dumont as the remaining acquisition of the Michal Grosek trade. That's alright with the Sabres. They got a whole year plus the end of last of Gilmour (with Chicago paying half his salary) and his veteran influence on the team cannot be overemphasized. The younger players have benefitted immensely from having the veteran around. The same can be said of his former Black Hawk teammate, Dumont. Dumont continues to shine as the "other half" of the Grosek trade. With 6 goals, J.P. is now the team leader in that department.

The Sabres sent the Flames home extinguished after only 1:29 of overtime. Woolley's perfect cross-crease pass threaded the needle and hit Dumont squarely on his stick. With a wide open net in front of him, all Dumont had to do was to tap it in. Instead, he slapped it home as if it were a shot from the blue line.

"It was just a great move by Curtis Brown," Dumont recollected. "He carried the puck all the way into the other zone and he made a great pass to Jason Woolley. I was right by myself. (Jason) saw me wide open and he give me the puck. It was a real easy goal for me but it was a huge one."

Woolley said that he just threw it across the crease in the hopes that Dumont would be there.

"I saw a little bit of white - I didn't really see how open he was," Woolley said. "But I was on such a bad angle that me shooting probably wasn't the play. (Dumont) did a great job getting open. He has a knack for that and maybe some of that came into play as well."

Taking it to the Max

Maxim Afinogenov seemed to be suffering from the sophomore jinx. After scoring 16 goals and 18 assists last year, Afinogenov had been almost unheard of until Saturday's game against New Jersey when he finally notched his second goal of the season. Mad Max continued his hot hand Monday night when he scored two goals, both on power plays.

Maxim Afinogenov gets special attention by Flames defenseman Igor Kravchuk during the first period. The attention that Mad Max drew didn't help as he scored two goals against the Flames.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

With the Flames up 1-0, Dave Andreychuk got his stick on a Woolley pass, and it went to Afinogenov, who sailed into the crease. Maxim flipped it in to tie it up.

On his second powerplay goal, Afinogenov picked up a loose puck right in front of Mike Vernon and shot it off the goalie's leg into the net. In the last two games, he has three goals and two assists.

"Just very good play from my partners and I just put the puck in the net," credited Afinogenov. "Very good passes."

"There hasn't been anything really wrong with him," said Ruff about the Sabres Russian Rocket. "He's played really good for us. He's been really good on the power play. He gets his two or three chances a night and they haven't been going in. He scored a nice goal the other night in New Jersey. Goal scorers tend to feed off that and that gave him a little bit of confidence."

With Afinogenov now getting powerplay goals, he adds even more firepower to the man advantage that his been going great guns this season. The Sabres now have scored 16 power play goals in 15 games.

Vernon's virtue

Mike Vernon proved that he can still be masterful in the crease and then some. Vernon faced 35 shots and stopped all but three of them. In fact, he out-Dominated the Dominator, who only faced 19 shots and didn't have to make as many glittering saves as Vernon did. The Flames also played most of the game without Wade Belak, who was speared in the throat area with a stick early in the game.

"Vernon played fabulous," lauded Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "He probably made seven or eight game-saving saves for them and he kept us at bay. The third period was probably the difference. We really went to work."

Flames coach Don Hay agreed with Ruff's assessment.

"If you get goaltending like that you're going to give yourself a chance," said Hay. "If we get the same type of effort from other people that we got from Mike, that's what we need to be successful."

Vernon didn't get any help from the refs, especially in the third period.

"We were short-handed most of the third period," Vernon alluded. "We just finished killing off a couple of penalties and they assess us with another one. It's a little frustrating from that standpoint."

Sabres Talk

Gilmour is happy with the way things are going recently for the Sabres.

"When we went on the road and lost those games, that was frustrating," Gilmour said. "But we turned that around. You look at everybody on this team contributing and being a part of this team. We have a long ways to go yet, this is the start of it."

Doug Gilmour, who told reporters that he's 90% sure of retirement next year, battles defenseman Toni Lydman in front of Flames goalie Mike Vernon in preparation for a shot on goal.
[AP Photo/Don Heupel]

He was asked about a comment he made in the Calgary Herald that he has almost completely made his mind up about retiring next season.

"I just don't think I will continue next year," Gilmour replied. "Probably 10 percent (chance of returning next season), maybe a little bit under."

"I'm not bad, but that's not an issue either," Gilmour continued. "We're 15 games into the season and we got a lot to go. I need to be healthy at the end of this too. I know that there are other things that are important, my body and my family."

"Training camp's a little different," Gilmour injected. "You go into training camp, you feel good, nobody's hitting you. Then all of a sudden the games start and you're body starts to take a toll on it."

"I'm motivated to play this year. That's the last time I might face Calgary the rest of my career. We're here to have a great year and a great playoff. After that I'll say goodbye to everybody."

Here's the skinny from the Calgary Herald story about Gilmour:

"See," says Doug Gilmour, drumming fingers on the shafts of two sticks marked by the numbers 13 and 14 written in black felt pen. "I'm keeping the stick I finish every game with, indexing them. They're for me. Eighty-two of them.

"Keepsakes from what looks like my final season in hockey."

READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT GILMOUR RETIRING......

Ruff is pleased with the play of Jason Woolley.

"I think Jason's played very well for us since he's come back," said Ruff. "Something he's done is he's started to see the ice again and use the guys with him. I've said before, (he) and Alexei really make a difference when they see the ice. Just jumping up the ice on the overtime goal is something he does naturally."

Woolley seems to be rejuvenated and it is showing on the ice.

"I just feel better out there," Woolley admitted. "The conditioning is probably the biggest thing for me. When you're in condition your mind can think a lot better out there, you can see the ice. When you're tired you seem to get lazy and you seem to fog up a little bit. And I had way too much fog early in the season. I just want to keep moving forward here."

Then Woolley turned his attention to the victory that he was a major part in.

"I think the turning point for this game was our power play was really moving the puck well," Woollley commented. "We were getting the shots through and making really nice plays. Alex was going to me down the sideboard and I was able to find either Max or Dave or Dougie (Gilmour). They were finding the holes. It was just a matter of getting it to them."

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