Senators 2, Sabres 1

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP)—Wade Redden’s power-play goal early in the third period ensured the top-seeded Ottawa Senators wouldn’t go down with a whimper.

Brian Pothier also scored and Ray Emery stopped 29 shots in a 2-1 win over the Sabres on Thursday that cut Buffalo’s lead to 3-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Senators avoided elimination by shaking off the frustrations of a 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo the previous night, and beat the Sabres in a playoff game for the first time since April 25, 1997, to end a nine-game skid.

Daniel Briere scored for Buffalo, which had a five-game winning streak snapped and lost for the first time in five home playoff games.

The best-of-seven-series shifts to Ottawa for Game 5 on Saturday.

The key to the victory was Emery, who has been knocked for playing poorly, particularly in Ottawa’s 7-6 overtime loss in Game 1 when he allowed seven goals on 23 shots.

Emery was at his sharpest of the series on Thursday in keeping the Senators’ season alive. He made numerous strong saves, three times foiling Ales Kotalik’s shots from the slot, including one with 8 minutes left.

He also got a glove on Maxim Afinogenov’s backhander from in close with 3 minutes remaining and stopped J.P. Dumont—who scored the Game 3 winner—with a glove save with 70 seconds left.

Although Emery is improving, the longer the series goes, the more likely star goaltender Dominik Hasek could return. Hasek, out since hurting his groin during the Olympics in February, practiced extensively for the second straight time earlier Thursday and said there’s a chance he could be back soon.

That would be a significant boost to a team that was relying on The Dominator to be the final piece to what is regarded a championship-caliber team.

The Senators still have a long climb back, considering only two NHL teams— Toronto in 1942 and the New York Islanders in 1975—have rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to win.

Redden’s goal came 3 minutes into the third period and shortly after Buffalo’s Derek Roy was penalized for tripping.

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson stopped Chris Drury’s clearing attempt and fed the puck across to Redden at the left point. The defenseman fired a low shot that ticked Buffalo defender Henrik Tallinder’s stick and sneaked through goalie Ryan Miller’s legs.

Ottawa then stifled the Sabres’ attack, limiting Buffalo to just seven shots in the third period—three coming on the team’s only power play of the frame.

The momentum shifted back and forth. The Senators thoroughly outplayed the Sabres in the opening period, outshooting them 9-2 nine minutes in and 18-7 overall. Buffalo came out flat and tentative.

Pothier opened the scoring five minutes in, beating Miller with a shot from the right point. The goal marked the first time an opposing team has taken a 1-0 lean against the Sabres this postseason. Buffalo opened the scoring in nine straight games to set a franchise record, but finished two short of matching the NHL playoff mark of 11 set by Chicago in 1973.

The Sabres responded with a solid second period in which they outshot Ottawa 16-3 and tied the game on Briere’s magnificent play, which he sparked by gaining the blue line and then dropping a pass to Dumont. Dumont faked a shot and hit Briere at full speed at the right of the net.

With the goalie having to cover the post, Briere streaked around the net and wrapped a shot off Emery’s outstretched skate.

Notes

Senators RW Vaclav Varada was a healthy scratch as coach Bryan Murray elected to dress an extra defenseman, Anton Volchenkov, who returned after missing Game 3 with a sore neck. … Senators D Christoph Schubert took Varada’s spot as a forward playing alongside Mike Fisher. … Briere extended his point streak to seven games. He has three goals and six assists in that span.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
W. Redden W. Redden
Ottawa Senators
Scored at 2:52 of 3rd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Ryan Miller Van 28 26