BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Maybe it’s time to stop referring to them as the “No-name” Buffalo Sabres.
So much for a Sabres team that was counted out since the start of the season for being too young and lacking marquee talent. Buffalo, making its first postseason appearance since 2001, is one win from eliminating the top-seeded Senators.
“Since Day 1, no one thought we were going to make the playoffs,” Dumont said. “We knew we had a lot of talent and character to do better than that. And we’ve showed it and proved it to everybody. … We don’t care what people think of us.”
Added co-captain Daniel Briere: “I hope people keep not paying attention to us, that’s fine by us.”
Chris Drury and Maxim Afinogenov also scored and rookie Ryan Miller stopped 26 shots for the Sabres who have won five straight, are 4-0 at home and defeated the Senators for the ninth straight time in the playoffs, dating to a 1997 first-round series.
Dumont sealed the victory in a game in which the Sabres twice squandered one-goal leads, including giving up Jason Spezza’s goal that forced overtime with 90 seconds left in regulation.
Taylor Pyatt started the play carrying the puck up the left wing and feeding a pass across the middle. The puck bounced high off the stick of Ottawa’s Mike Fisher, but Dumont had time to leap and bring it down. Dumont then swiped at a bouncing puck, his shot floating in over goaltender Ray Emery’s right shoulder.
“I saw the defenseman just stay there in front and he didn’t come after me, so I knew had time to put the puck down,” Dumont said. “Just shoot it and the puck went in.”
“I didn’t see it,” Emery said. “Next thing I knew it was up there.”
And now, the Senators are down there, a team on the verge of extending its dreadful history of playoff collapses. Despite registering 100-plus points for the fifth time in seven seasons, the Senators have only once advanced to the conference finals—in 2003, when they lost to New Jersey.
This is a team that’s never overcome a two-game deficit never mind 3-0, and has little time to regroup with Game 4 of the best-of-seven series at Buffalo on Thursday night.
“You can’t give up,” said Spezza, who scored twice. “We need to steal a game and bring it back to our rink.”
Added captain Daniel Alfredsson: “It’s frustrating. But as long as there’s hope, we’re not going to quit.”
Buffalo limited most of Ottawa’s scoring chances to the outside and then showed no signs of wilting after Spezza forced overtime by deflecting in Brian Pothier’s shot from the point.
“Just an amazing feeling, an amazing feeling to see how we responded and how we found a way to win the game,” Briere said.
The Senators’ only hope might be whether injured goaltender Dominik Hasek can make his playoff debut after being out since hurting his groin during the Olympics in February.
Hasek practiced Wednesday morning and suggested he might be ready to return.
Senators coach Bryan Murray played down any speculation, saying Hasek hasn’t indicated to him that he’s ready.
The Sabres shrugged at the possibility of seeing their former star playing against them.
“If he does, fine, if he doesn’t, we don’t even want to comment on that,” defenseman Jay McKee said.
Then again, goaltending wasn’t the Senators’ problem on Wednesday.
Emery had his best game of the series, stopping 21 shots.
The Senators’ troubles are lack of offense, having managed just three goals on their last 72 shots dating to Game 2.
“Down 3-0 is tough,” Alfredsson said. “We want to get it going, get some confidence and we can probably be dangerous again.”
Sabres C Jiri Novotny made his NHL playoff debut filling in for Connolly. D Rory Fitzpatrick replaced Kalinin, making his second appearance this postseason. … Senators D Anton Volchenkov, hurt during a collision with Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad in Game 2, did not play and was replaced by Christoph Schubert. … The Sabres have scored the first goal in all nine postseason games, two short of matching the NHL record set by Chicago in 1973.