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Sabres Central

Hasek's weak play contributes to Wings victory
By Rick Anderson
October 22, 2000

Leave it to the Buffalo Sabres to rejuvenate an opposing team's power play. That's exactly what the Sabres did in Detroit Saturday as a power play in overtime helped the Red Wings beat the Sabres 5-4. The Wings had been 0-17 on the power play at home this season, but scored 3 out of 5 man advantages against the Sabres.

Miroslav Satan and Wings defenseman Steve Duchesne chase after the puck during the first period in Joe Louis Arena. The Wings beat the Sabres in overtime 5-4.
[AP Photo/Paul Warner]

Not only did the Sabres pump up the Wings power play to a potent level, but Detroit's record was only 2-3 coming into the game. By beating the Sabres, the Wings now have more confidence to proceed on their goal to capture the Central Division title.

The Sabres, on the other hand, are going nowhere but down in their division. Buffalo has played 4 games on the road so far this season and has lost every one. One of the main concerns with the current state of Sabres affairs is the penalty kill unit. It has been one of the weakest units in the league thus far.

Then there's the Dominik Hasek syndrome. Hasek is in one of his worst funks since he came over to the Sabres in a trade with Chicago. Hasek remains winless, with a record of 0-4-1. The first and the last goal the Red Wings scored against Hasek were very stoppable. So were a couple in between. Hasek faced 27 Red Wing shots, but 5 got past him. "What's wrong with Hasek" has been asked in hockey circles even outside of Buffalo this week. With Hasek's latest effort, the team must make a decision of whether to keep him in the nets or replace him with either Mika Noronen or Peter Skudra until Hasek picks up his game.

Brendan Shanahan converted a late overtime power play into the winning goal as he put one past Hasek that made the Sabres goalie look like a statue - he just stood there. Nicklas Lidstrom feed the puck to Shanahan, who was around 30 feet from the Sabres net. Shanahan, using Tomas Holmstrom as a screen, shot it past the befuddled Hasek with only 32 seconds remaining in the overtime.

"Homer did a great job," said Shanahan about the goal. "Nick and I played a little catch back and forth before the shot. I couldn't see Hasek and I hoped he didn't see me."

Shanahan's goal came just 19 seconds after the Sabres' Jay McKee and Sergei Fedorov had a knee-to-knee collision that sent Fedorov to the dressing room. The Detroit fans in Joe Louis Arena booed and demanded a penalty and the referee granted them their wish.

"I think they ended up skate to skate," said Lindy Ruff. "It's a tough call after they let everything go at the end of the third period in front of their net, and everything else."

McKee contested the penalty, claiming it was happenstance.

"I lunged to try to hit him and my leg came out and hit his leg and we got a penalty for it," defended McKee. "I'd be very surprised if I hit him with my knee, maybe tripping might have been a fair call."

After the game, Fedorov had his knee wrapped up with an ace bandage, but he was not limping at all. Makes one wonder if the bandage was for show.

"He's got big, strong legs," said Wings coach and legend Scotty Bowman. "That's what (trainer) John Wharton said. It could've been real serious. That's the problem with those things."

Even though the Sabres lost their fourth straight road contest, they do manage to take home a point as each team were guaranteed at least one point going into overtime.

The Sabres got goals from 4 different forwards as Stu Barnes, Miroslav Satan, Curtis Brown and Doug Gilmour lit the lamp against Detroit netminder Manny Legace.

Even though the Sabres have yet to produce a victory away from HSBC Arena, Ruff was not displeased with the effort.

"I don't think you can say Detroit outplayed us,"said Ruff. "For long portions of the game I thought we took the play to them. We're just not as good of divers as they are."

Doug Brown opened the scoring when he netted a power play goal 11:10 into the first period. Brown tipped Larry Murphy's shot from the right faceoff circle past Hasek in the far side of the net. It was a shot that Hasek is normally able to quickly get over and stop, but this year the Dominator has not been able to display the quickness of former years.

Satan scored his second tally of the season when he took a pass from Chris Gratton in front of Legace and banged it home at the 17:32 mark of the first stanza. The goal came moments after Detroit finished killing a penalty.

The tie was short-lived as Martin Lapointe went in on Hasek with Shanahan on a 2-on-1 and beat the Sabres goalie a little over a minute after Satan's goal.

In the second period, the Sabres actually grabbed the lead and looked as if they were on track for their first road victory. Stu Barnes got a breakaway while the Sabres were on a power play and scored his 4th of the season at 3:39 of the period and Gilmour notched his first goal of the season when he picked up a huge rebound off Maxim Afinogenov's blast and banged it home 3 minutes after Barnes goal. The lead was very short-lived.

Another Detroit power play, another goal on Hasek. Just 3 seconds after going on the man advantage, Pat Verbeek deflected Nicklas Lidstrom's shot to tie the game. Under a minute later, Verbeek scored his second goal of the night and Detroit had the lead once again.

Chris Gratton and Wings defenseman Aaron Ward battle for the puck in front of Detroit goaltender Manny Legace.
[AP Photo/Paul Warner]

"We finally cashed in some of the chances we've been getting,"said Verbeek about the Wings finally getting some power play goals. "I've thought for the last (two) games we've been getting the puck to the net. When you get the puck to the net, good things happen."

Curtis Brown tied the game up with almost six minutes gone in the third period when slid a shot under Legace's left arm and the score remained tied until the last seconds in overtime when Shanahan notched the winner.

The Sabres, who did an excellent job of winning the faceoffs against the Mighty Ducks the night before, did a horrendous job taking the draws in Detroit as the Wings won 69% of the faceoffs. That put Buffalo at a severe disadvantage and the Wings capitalized.

"It seemed like all night long all four of their lines were winning faceoffs," said Erik Rasmussen. "I don't know what it was, but they did a great job on faceoffs tonight. They won a lot of draws very cleanly."

Then there is Hasek. He clearly is not the Hasek of old. Although he has been famous for his slow starts, this may be something more serious. Both the team doctor and Hasek claim that nothing physically ails him at present, but his slow lateral movement and his lack of his usual acrobatic gyrations indicate that something is amiss. Maybe it's his mental game, but there is a something that is making Hasek tense and stiff in the crease. If Ruff decides to continue using Hasek as his starting goalie, it could put the Sabres in a bigger hole than they found themselves in at the end of last October.

If Hasek is a slow started in the regular season, he's even slower at the beginning of each game. Case in point: Detroit scores on 2 of their first 4 shots on goal. The Ducks get one past Hasek on their third shot on net the night before. On Tuesday, Hasek was a victim twice on the Canadiens first three shots.

After the Sabres came out of the gates winning their first two games, experts were saying that the ball was in the Sabres' court in the contract negations between Michael Peca and Martin Biron. Five games later, both Peca and Biron are sitting pretty right now. Who could blame them if they upped their ante now that it appears the Sabres are going nowhere without them.


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