NHL Game Summary - Carolina at Buffalo |
(Tuesday, May 30th)
Final Score: Buffalo 2, Carolina 1 (OT)
Buffalo, NY (Sports Network) - Daniel Briere's wrist shot bounced off of
Carolina goaltender Cam Ward's glove and trickled over the goal line 4:22 into
overtime, as the Buffalo Sabres staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory over
the Hurricanes in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at HSBC Arena.
Briere also assisted on J.P. Dumont's first-period goal for the Sabres, who
will now travel to Raleigh for the decisive series finale on Thursday.
Goaltender Ryan Miller made 25 saves in the victory.
Bret Hedican tied the contest in the latter stages of the third period for
Carolina, which must wait two more days for another chance to reach the
Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four seasons.
Ward, who replaced Martin Gerber in goal midway through Game 5 and sparked the
Hurricanes' come-from-behind overtime victory, allowed two goals on 31 shots.
The winner of the series will face the Edmonton Oilers, who defeated the
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in five games in the Western Conference finals.
"Everybody knows what is at stake - a trip to the Finals," said Carolina head
coach Peter Laviolette. "Now our back is up against the wall. (The game) is in
our building, which is where we want it to be, and we're going to be able to
use the energy from our building and our fans."
With the contest tied 1-1, the Sabres' outstanding physical play in the
opening minutes of overtime led to a boarding penalty on Doug Weight 2:28
into the extra session.
"In the (locker) room before overtime, the guys were relaxed," Briere said.
"We played so well that we knew we were going to get a bounce."
After several good scoring chances were turned aside by Ward, the penalty was
nearing its expiration when Rory Fitzpatrick accepted a pass beneath the
center of the blue line. Fitzpatrick faked a slap shot and slid a pass over
to Briere in the left slot near the circle.
Briere then fired a wrist shot and, with Dumont in front creating a partial
screen, the puck tipped off of Ward's glove, bounced behind him and went over
the goal line for the power-play tally and a 2-1 victory.
"I saw the light go on and I saw the fans jumping up," said Briere. "It's a
(great) feeling when you see the building going nuts."
Buffalo used the energy of the home crowd and took an early 1-0 lead in the
early stages of the opening period on Dumont's seventh playoff goal near the
"It was very important," said Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff about the Sabres
quick start. "Our fans were unbelievable - the energy in the building was
tremendous. We carried that momentum over from shift to shift."
The Sabres kept the puck in their offensive zone with solid work along the
boards before a shot by Brian Campbell from the left point missed wide. During
the shift, Carolina defenseman Frantisek Kaberle lost his stick and could not
clear the puck from behind the net after Campbell's shot.
Briere swooped in, corralled the puck, skated out to the bottom of the left
circle and fired a shot from a sharp angle that was stopped. However, the
rebound sat in the goal mouth and Dumont lifted a wrist shot up high past Ward
for a 1-0 lead at 4:56.
Miller stopped all five shots he faced in the first stanza, but his best save
occurred on the final shot he faced with 1:20 remaining. Following a defensive
breakdown by Buffalo, Weight controlled the puck along the lower left half-
wall and drifted in toward the circle. He passed across to Ray Whitney,
who was all alone in front but Miller slid across the crease and made a nice
Midway through the second period, the visitors began to shift the momentum
in their favor with strong forechecking in their offensive zone. Laviolette
double-shifted his top two scoring lines, and the move created several
great scoring chances that forced the Sabres' defense corps on its heels. A
pair of one-timers from the point and a wrist shot from the slot by Justin
Williams nearly beat Miller, but the Hurricanes continued to trail by one.
A penalty to Carolina forward Kevyn Adams -- his second of the period -- gave
Buffalo a two-minute power play with over five minutes remaining before the
second intermission. The Sabres failed to capitalize and nearly gave up a goal
when Adams was released from the box.
The puck trickled down the right half-wall and Miller skated out to play it,
but did not get enough muscle behind his clearing attempt and Adams held
control along the outer rim of the circle. Adams fired a wrist shot, but an
out-of-position Miller stuck out his stick and deflected the disc behind the
net to keep the Sabres ahead after 40 minutes of action.
Ward's glove save on a slap shot from the top of the right circle by Jason
Pominville with 10:35 remaining in regulation concluded a four-minute flurry
of odd-man rushes for both teams that produced constant end-to-end scoring
"If it weren't for (Ward), it would have been a lot worse," said Laviolette.
Shortly thereafter, two questionable icing calls against the Hurricanes within
a 1:30 span helped the Sabres change lines after extended shifts. The fresh
skaters proved advantageous, as Buffalo held off the quick Carolina forwards
for the next five-plus minutes.
However, the Hurricanes finally solved Miller with just under four minutes
remaining in regulation. Cory Stillman kept the puck deep in the Carolina
offensive zone and sent a pass from behind the net to Matt Cullen at the top
of the right circle. Cullen faked a slap shot and passed across to the top of
the opposite circle for Hedican, who lit the lamp with a high wrist shot that
beat Miller over the right shoulder at 16:07.
"When you let a team hang (around), which we did, they got the break they
needed and tied the game," Ruff said.
With 1:40 to play in regulation, Hurricanes centerman Rod Brind'Amour missed a
golden opportunity for the potential game-winner. He was alone in the low slot
with teammates flanking Miller on either side, but both his initial shot and
rebound chance were stopped and the horn sounded shortly afterward as the
teams entered the locker rooms deadlocked at one apiece.
This marks the third consecutive playoff season in which the Eastern
Conference finals will be decided by a Game 7. In 2004, the Tampa Bay
Lightning defeated Philadelphia at home in Game 7, and the New Jersey Devils
outlasted the Ottawa Senators in the decisive contest on the road in 2003.
Both teams went on to win the Stanley Cup...Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen
returned to the lineup after he had missed four games with a groin strain. He
registered 4:13 of ice time and finished with a plus-one rating...The
Hurricanes only trip to the Finals was in 2002, when they lost to the Detroit
Red Wings in five games...Carolina sniper Eric Staal saw his 15-game playoff
point streak halted...The visitors finished scoreless on three power-play
chances and the Sabres were 1-for-5 with the extra skater...Attendance was
18,690...Game 1 of the championship round is set for Monday, June 5 at 8:00
p.m. (et). The winner of this series will have home-ice advantage.
05/31 01:34:38 ET