Buffalo won twice in Ottawa to grab a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series despite being outshot 17-4 in the second, 15-4 in the third, and 44-17 overall.
“It was a huge night for Ryan Miller,” Sabres co-captain Chris Drury said. “We hung in there at the end. It felt like we were in our zone the whole third period, but we battled and we got an important win.”
Miller, who has started each of the Sabres’ eight playoff games, rebounded from allowing six goals on 33 shots Friday. He won his fourth straight game, improving to 6-2 overall.
“We hung tough,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “Nobody likes to be questioned, and I think there were questions being asked after Games 3 and 4 in Philly, and I though he responded really well. Tonight was just a solid performance by him and that’s what he’s given us most of the year.”
Dumont scored his fifth of the playoffs 3:33 into the second and Hecht added a breakaway goal moments later in his return to the lineup after missing three games, including Friday’s wild 7-6 overtime win in Game 1.
Chris Phillips netted the only goal for the top-seeded Senators, who have dropped eight straight playoff games to the Sabres, dating to 1997.
The Senators scored an NHL-high 314 goals this season but it isn’t helping so far against Buffalo, which has won three straight road postseason games after losing two in Philadelphia during the first round.
Jason Spezza came close to tying it on a breakaway with 2:38 left.
“I was on the bench and I put my head down, to be honest,” Sabres defenseman Jay McKee said. “I was hoping I didn’t hear the horn go off or the fans cheering.”
The Senators center put the puck between Miller’s legs but it struck the goalie’s left pad and stopped just short of crossing the goal line as defenseman Henrik Tallinder reached back to help cover up.
“I just felt it graze my right pad, and as I went back to the left, it was the old Curtis Joseph thing, you kind of hook your pad around and if it’s going to sneak in that far corner, you can get a piece of it,” Miller said. “It was pretty lucky.”
After Ottawa failed to score on a last-ditch flurry during a power play, the sellout crowd showed its displeasure by popping Thunderstix when the final horn sounded. It creating a symphony of explosions throughout the quickly emptying arena as Buffalo celebrated its second one-goal win in the series.
Rookie Ray Emery made 15 saves as the Senators limited Buffalo’s shots for the second straight game.
“We battled hard,” Emery said. “We got a lot of shots, a lot of chances, sometimes they just don’t get in there. I want to win for the team. I want to do my part and it’s definitely disappointing when the other guys are playing well, and they bury their chances.”
Emery was beaten for all seven goals in Game 1 despite facing 23 shots.
“That’s hockey. The kid played great in goal for them, our guy played really well,” Senators coach Bryan Murray said. “They found a way to get the two goals. I thought we played a really good game overall. A giveaway and a 2-on-1, and they capitalized on their opportunities. They didn’t get many chances in the game overall, and we couldn’t find a way to score.”
Game 3 will be Wednesday in Buffalo.
Ottawa outshot Buffalo 12-9 through a scoreless first period that saw the Sabres lose Tim Connolly in the first minute.
Connolly was leveled by a clean, open-ice check from Senators forward Peter Schaefer. Leading with his left shoulder, Schaefer drove into the Sabres center, who had his head down as he was turning right while carrying the puck through the neutral zone toward Ottawa’s blue line. The hit knocked Connolly flat to the ice and play was stopped at 58 seconds.
Connolly, who missed the entire 2003-04 season due to post-concussion syndrome, laid on his back while Schaefer hobbled around, trying to shake off the effects of the solid collision.
Schaefer remained in the game but Connolly was helped off the ice. The Sabres said he had an upper body injury, but he might be back Wednesday.
“We anticipate him playing,” Ruff said. “He feels pretty good right now.”
Dumont opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the playoffs 3:33 into the second. Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere, who missed both weekend practices with an illness, deked Emery to the ice on a 2-on-1 before passing to Dumont. He shot the puck into a wide-open net.
Hecht scored his first playoff goal when he stripped the puck from Phillips and put it through Emery’s pads on a breakaway at 6:00 to put the Sabres up 2-0.
“I kind of figured he was going to the half wall, I got a good bounce out of it—straightforward—so I just skated to the puck and was able to get by him,” Hecht said.
He had been sidelined by an upper body injury since April 28 after he exchanged checks with Philadelphia’s Peter Forsberg during Game 4 of the Sabres’ first-round win.
Senators defenseman Anton Volchenkov had to be helped off the ice 5:11 into the third when his head hit the boards after he checked Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad in front of Ottawa’s bench. The players appeared to make contact with their heads during the initial collision. Gaustad went off but later returned.
There is no off day between Games 3 and 4 in Buffalo. … Connolly scored twice Friday, including the tying goal with 10.7 seconds remaining in regulation. He had five goals and six assists in Buffalo’s first seven playoff games. … Senators D Brian Pothier returned to the lineup.